On insurance, ugly truth | Oct. 8, commentary
Insurers deserve no sympathy
State Sen. J.D. Alexander painted an ugly picture of what might happen when Florida gets hit by the next major storm. With insurance companies driven from the state, taxpayers would be hit with the bill. So I guess the only solution is to allow insurance companies to raise rates at will and run unregulated around the state building enough reserves so they will be there for us.
But what's wrong with this picture?
Last fall taxpayers had to bail out AIG, the largest insurance company in the world, to the tune of some $180 billion. That amounts dwarfs the $14 billion shortfall Alexander claims we would be facing should a major storm hit a metropolitan area.
Now, tell me again why we need to allow private insurers to hide profits with Florida-only companies while overcharging Floridians for coverage, denying legitimate claims and dropping longtime customers?
When Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, insurers passed the bulk of the claims on to the federal government by classifying them as flood damage. Taxpayers paid the majority of Katrina claims. Does anyone really think that should the big one hit, Nationwide (Florida) will be on our side or we'll be in good hands with Allstate (Florida) or that like a good neighbor State Farm (Florida) will be there?
These are companies that claim that after four years of collecting premiums with no storm claims they are losing money. Think again.
William Adams, St. Petersburg
With Nationwide Insurance Co. dropping policies for 60,000 homeowners in Florida, perhaps Nationwide should change its jingle to "Nationwide is on your side … Not!"
Susan Hart-Medvin, Tampa
Take away Congress' insurance | Oct. 9, Nicholas Kristof column
Health care system shouldn't be based on profit
How can citizens influence those people in Congress, particularly the senators on the Finance Committee who are trying to reform the health care system, when they owe their seats in Congress and the majority of their campaign funds to lobbyists and pressure groups that want to maintain the status quo? Some of the more important issues are:
1. How can we prevent a citizen from going bankrupt because he or she could not pay their medical bills?
2. How can we prevent insurance companies from practicing medicine without a license for the sake of making greater profits?
3. How can we develop a system of universal health care for all?
Good health is not a privilege for the wealthy and the influential but a right for all U.S. citizens — not illegal aliens.
Our system should not be based on how to maximize profits but how to provide better health care at a much lower price to every man, woman and child who is a U.S. citizen.
Donald Rothschild Levy, Seminole
For months following Minnesota's I-35W bridge collapse in 2007, the major media outlets, including the Associated Press and NPR, ran story after story about how the U.S. infrastructure is, according to NPR "crumbling."
Michael Cooper's Jan. 27 story in the New York Times states, "Leaky pipes lose an estimated seven billion gallons of clean drinking water every day. And aging sewage systems send billions of gallons of untreated wastewater cascading into the nation's waterways each year."
Why does the media omit the fact that politicians in government are the ones running the "crumbling infrastructure" programs? For months now these same major media outlets are running story after story in support of government-run health care. Anyone with a shred of common sense knows that the same government politicians who can't figure out how to paint a bridge or repair a leaking sewer pipe is in no way capable of running health care.
J. Hutson, Tampa
As a former health insurance company CEO, it sickens me to witness how our gutless Congress is dropping the ball on health care reform. What they pass in the name of reform will do little to control the growth of health care costs. As our leaders declare victory, insurance and pharmaceutical company CEOs will smile, having again ducked the bullet of real reform. Costs will moderate for a year or two and then soar once again.
Where is an examination of health care waste? We spend 30 percent of all health care dollars on overhead and insurance company profits. We pay much higher prices for our prescription drugs than Canadians do, and waste 30 percent on the overuse, underuse and misuse of medical procedures. Little that is being proposed will put a dent in these areas of waste.
The option that would address this waste is not even on the table for discussion. That is the single-payer option. It would save more than $550 billion each year by reducing overhead and profit costs, reducing drug prices, and by ensuring every American has access to routine and preventive care and chronic disease management. These reforms would more than fund the cost of the uninsured.
The fact that Congress did not even allow this option to be studied shows just how gutless and deeply in the pockets of the health care lobbyists they are.
Alan Jacobs, New Port Richey
Numbers back up claim on premiums Oct. 8, PolitiFact
I consider my checkbook to be the "definitive source" for health insurance costs, so I must disagree with the Kaiser Family Foundation. From 2001 to 2008, my premiums increased by 38 percent — less than half of the 89 percent increase cited for family coverage. I have had the same family policy, the same number of dependents and the same level of coverage and deductibles for each year.
I doubt the Kaiser numbers are based on such an apples-to-apples comparison. No doubt they are skewed by growing families, families that moved and then had to obtain a new policy, and families that lost coverage through a job change and then had to pay more for a pre-existing condition, among other factors.
Health insurance certainly could use some reform, but let's not inflate the numbers.
Peter Ford, Tierra Verde
Health reform passes hurdle | Oct. 8, story
Befuddled by the funding
Okay, now I get it. The way we will pay for this great new government medical program is "by reducing spending on Medicare and other federal health programs" by $400 billion. Of course, those are great government programs, too. It is just that they cost more than we can afford if we want to have this other great new government program.
And when it turns out that this great new government program costs more than we can afford, then we will … we will …
Oops, I think I lost it. Could you explain it again for me?
Barry Augenbraun, St. Petersburg