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LETTERS: How to get a leaner, better, less costly health care system

A computer screen shows the enrollment page for the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

We in the United States have a problem. Our health care system does not perform well. We lead industrialized nations in infant and maternal mortality, lag in life expectancy, and rank 81st in the world in mortality that could be prevented by good medical care. Despite this, we spend far and away the most for health care. Our per capita costs are about $10,000/year, whereas most industrialized nations are between $4,000 and $8,000.

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About 17 percent of our economy goes to health care, compared with 8 percent to 11 percent in other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

Administrative costs are much higher in the U.S. than elsewhere. We spend anywhere from 2 to 5 times more per capita on administrative costs than any other country. Private insurers spend from 10 percent to 30 percent of revenues on non- health care expenses. These include marketing, lobbying, profits, executive salaries, and denying care. In 2016, health insurers made over $13 billion in profits, with CEOs pulling down eight-figure salaries.

While the average administrative cost of private insurers is about 20 percent of revenues, traditional Medicare is about 3 percent.

Many medications cost 50 percent to 100 percent more here than elsewhere, and we spend twice the OECD average per capita. Drug prices are rising at about 16 percent a year.

What is single-payer, and what will it do? Based on the proposal in the House of Representatives (HR 676), it is a government funded national health insurance plan. Providers and hospitals will not be owned by the government; HR 676 is not socialized medicine. Everyone is covered for their entire lifetime. Comprehensive coverage is provided for medical, dental, pharmaceutical, eye and long-term care.

There is no cost sharing, such as deductibles, co-pays or co-insurance. How can we afford this? By eliminating private health insurance for these services and cutting out hundreds of billions in administrative costs that add no value to our system. By having a single national network that can effectively negotiate prices with pharmaceutical and medical device makers.  Single-payer will result in a leaner, better performing system with improved care and lower costs. Lives will be saved, and suffering reduced. It is time.

John Perryman, St. Charles

Appalling

It is appalling to think that a foreign government would try to sway our elections by putting political ads on Facebook.

What is even more appalling is that some American voters could allow Facebook ads to influence their vote.

Larry E. Nazimek, Logan Square

Too far to the left

You say in your editorial that the Republican Party has gone too far to the right, which may be true. But the Democratic Party has gone too far to the left, almost to the point of being a socialist party, and forgetting the middle class unless they are in a union. Both parties need to come back to the middle.

David Polvi, Wood Dale

Studied fake history

Military leaders are usually avid students of history. Gen. John Kelly apparently studied some fake history that seems to haunt the White House.

He claims the Civil War resulted from a failure to compromise? On what, the promises of the Declaration of Independence? provisions on the Constitution? that the federal government was unwilling to let southerners keep slaves kidnapped and forcefully brought to this country to work out their lives in subjugation?

Donald Trump once stated that Andrew Jackson could have prevented the Civil War. In actuality, Jackson did in fact make his position clear on that issue. At a state dinner in 1830 Robert Haynes, senator from South Carolina, delivered a pro nullification speech. This was followed by toasts touting the same position. It was expected that president Jackson, being from Tennessee would validate that position. Jackson rose and delivered the following toast “”Our federal union, it must be preserved.”” Jackson continued to echo this sentiment in clashes with vice president Calhoun for the next couple of years.

Kelly stated that Lee was an ‘honorable man.’ Lee chose to commit acts of treason against his country to protect and preserve the institution of slavery. General it is hard to find a compromise, or honor. when you are dealing with people who are morally bankrupt.

Daniel Pupo, Orland Park

Common mistake

While I understand Streets and San Commissioner Charles Williams regarding what should and shouldn’t be included in the blue recycle bin, “paper, aluminum and plastic” are indicated as those items that are acceptable. However, a common mistake that is not mentioned, is that the recycling truck will not take recyclable items that are packed inside “plastic” bags, despite the fact that the bag is plastic.

Mike Koskiewicz, Portage Park