Re: “Maine Voices: Let government fund health care and insurance companies run show” (May 13):

Instead of accepting that the citizens of the U.S. be divided into the group-insured, non-group insured and uninsured, we should all be in one basket: universal health care. That is where real efficiency could flourish.

The column’s author, Benjamin J. Michaud, is correct: The federal government should be the funding source for health care. And it could even work with the insurance companies administering payments – as long as the insurers were nonprofit. Japan has such a system. Only doctors determine what a patient needs. Insurance companies merely pay the providers; they can never deny coverage.

The problem in our country is the conflict of interest between people depending on insurance companies to pay for needed care, and the first priority of insurance companies: profit. The more care they deny, the higher their profit. That is the nature of for-profit systems. And it drives up cost astronomically.

Republicans seem to value the free market over life itself, as witnessed by their willingness to accept something as cruel as the recent American Health Care Act. Obamacare is not a disaster. But it could be improved. It will become more of a disaster with Republicans trying to sabotage it. Now is the time, therefore, for real change.

We have already tried market-driven health care. It is more expensive, unfair, inefficient and yields worse health outcomes than in any other developed nation on earth, all of which have some kind of federally funded national health system. As Michaud writes, “The federal government exists for one purpose: To serve its citizens where the free market cannot.”

Why not join the rest of the developed world and finally give it a chance to do its job in this essential service?

Nancy O’Hagan

Portland