February 26, 2010

Insurance companies hinder affordable health care delivery

— I agree with Joe Allumbaugh's assertion in his recent column that for-profit insurance companies should not be at the center of the debate over health care reform (''Lessons for health care reform are abundant in Maine,'' Dec. 30).

But unlike him, in my case it's because I don't think for-profit companies should be central to the provision of health care.

While the rest of the industrialized world is able to provide health care to all citizens for less money per patient than we spend while leaving some tens of millions out, no two foreign systems are identical.

Some even include for-profit health insurance. What they all have in common -- and what we lack -- is they all allow their residents the opportunity to obtain basic health coverage from an entity that doesn't profit from denying them care.

Not all human activities are well-suited to the profit motive. Health care is one of them.

If health insurance companies such as Allumbaugh defends in his column hadn't spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress and polluting the well of public discourse with distortions and scares, we might have been able to, in his words, ''raise the level of dialogue and seek out sustainable solutions.''

One of those sustainable solutions is a single-payer system such as the one that serves our Canadian neighbors well.

Then we could have left for-profit insurance companies out of the conversation altogether, satisfying Mr. Allumbaugh and me.

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