An American war story | Oct. 30
Affecting, important article on war
I have never read anything published in the Times that has affected me as much as this article. I only wish I could have written it myself. Having served in the Navy during the Vietnam War for four years, and having recently experienced the VA medical system, I am seeing up close the number of young men and women affected for life by these so-called wars. John Hubbard's article makes so many relevant points and states the facts so clearly. I only hope his words can be spread near and far to the mostly uninformed who continue to sell these hopeless wars and their consequences.
Glenn Kennedy, Kenneth City
Cause for anger
This article by John Hubbard was right on point. As I read it, though, I became angry. I am angry at our country's leaders who led us into these wars, especially the Bush administration that lied to justify what they wanted to do.
But I am also angry at the electorate and pseudo-patriots who also allowed it, acted as cheerleaders and then re-elected these people.
It is not possible to go back and undo the death and human damage that these wars have caused, but we can insist that Congress seriously address the debt that has resulted.
David A. Cimino, St. Petersburg
What a splendid story from John Hubbard about his son-in-law's military service as a doctor. It provided a clear framework for how the United States should go to war while being true to its Constitution and values. The author's warmaking process should be required reading for politicians and diplomats.
James Gillespie, St. Petersburg
Profits and wars
Thank you for the article by John Hubbard (no relation, though I'd be proud to claim him). He writes with clarity and brings out all the salient points including the fact that the money we have spent, or more accurately that our heirs will spend, on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would fund health care for all Americans not covered by insurance — in perpetuity.
A great deal of that money has gone to profit American companies dealing in arms sales and to contractors such as Halliburton who have a great deal of influence over our elected officials. It is distressing to know that wars may be waged today with attendant lives lost as payoff for campaign pledges.
Nyla Jo Hubbard, Tarpon Springs
On the mark
I commend John Hubbard for his essay. I have not seen a more cogent analysis of our country's current dilemma anywhere. His solutions are right on the mark. I wish all Americans would read this, reflect on it and urge our policymakers to act on it.
Archer C. Bush, Sun City Center
Excellent cancer care, byzantine bills Oct. 30, Robyn Blumner
I wish Robyn Blumner the best of health and am happy she received good care from her doctors. I think quite a few people are shaking their heads, or fists, at the convoluted billing system. The "occupiers" are protesting the wrong group: It isn't Wall Street, the banks or the mortgage lenders bankrupting the country — it's the medical-industrial complex. It seems to be functioning in a parallel universe where there is no accountability or even comprehension.
Gail Burke, Hudson
Corporate cash to blame
Robyn Blumner is, as usual, spot on. Medical care in this country will continue to be the most expensive and least available as long as insurance companies call the shots.
The only way to get the insurance industry out of medicine is to get corporate money out of the electoral process. The only way to accomplish that is with public financing. Other democracies do it.
Michael D. Mitchell, Tampa
Government at fault
Rarely do I agree with Robyn Blumner, but this time she nailed it. The billing systems used by the hospitals, insurance companies and doctors are a hodgepodge of mazes even the most accomplished lab rat would have difficulty navigating.
How did it get this way? Government intervention and legislation is one reason. Hospitals, doctors and insurance companies see the government as an entity with deep pockets. The problem is that those deep pockets are the taxpayers.
Jumping on the bandwagon are malpractice attorneys, whose lawsuits have driven up the doctors' and hospitals' insurance costs. Doctors have responded by ordering additional tests and procedures just to protect themselves.
Kenneth R. Gilder, St. Petersburg
Making up for losses
My empathy goes out to Times columnist Robyn Blumner for her battle against breast cancer, and for her attempt to understand the billing involved in her medical care. She has a much better chance recovering from the cancer than she does in understanding the billing.
Insurance companies contract with third-party benefits managers to negotiate prices of procedures with hospitals and diagnostic centers, as well as determine what procedures your doctor can order and what prescriptions he or she can prescribe, based on the insurance companies' formularies. Each company is different and each company can have different policies based on different plans. Some companies have generic medication only plans, while others limit the number of visits per year, even though you're paying hundreds of dollars per month in premiums.
To make up for their losses, hospitals have to charge hundreds of dollars for blood tests that costs pennies, or do work-ups on patients in the ER that often seem a bit overkill, e.g., getting a drug screen on any patient complaining of chest pain in case a stress test has to be done.
Oh, and the next time you get Tylenol in the hospital, check out what you're charged.
David Lubin, M.D., Tampa