Letter: Health care is at a tipping point

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Katie Kestner is too kind in her recent opinion on Cigna health insurance’s dispute with Mission Hospital [“What Happens to Us in Dispute Between Mission and Cigna?” Oct. 30, Xpress].

If she is seeking clarification re: the behavior of the corporate health care industry, she needs to read Wendell Potter, former Cigna vice president of corporate communications: “I left the health insurance industry because I was disgusted with a system that put corporate profits over patients’ health, that profited from denying people the care and medication they needed to survive.” Mr. Potter did more than leave; he became a whistleblower on the industry in testimony before Congress and wrote Deadly Spin.

I have no love for the transformation of Mission into a for-profit health care system in its partnership with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). My same-day partial knee surgery on Feb. 1 marked the beginning of Mission-HCA. Even without hospitalization, I was billed nearly $47,000, of which $24,000 was for “medical supplies.” I can relate to Ms. Kestner’s concerns.

There is no political “will” among our WNC congressional representatives (Patrick McHenry and Mark Meadows) to support legislation for health care reform, especially in support of Medicare for All. Medicare was passed by Congress in 1965 and was fully operational within one year. Don’t tell me the federal government can’t manage a health care system.

My story hardly registers on the health care scale of misery. Others have experienced far worse, losing their life savings for not being “in network.” Fortunately, traditional Medicare paid for most of my expenses. Sixty-two percent of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are due to medical expenses.

Rep. McHenry, at a recent town hall meeting in Hickory, promoted Medicare Advantage plans, which preserve the private health care industry and those “networks” that restrict our choices, the same networks that Ms. Kestner complains about.

These plans will only harm traditional Medicare by taking the healthier seniors. The biggest (private) health care insurance growth has been in co-opting traditional Medicare.

As a volunteer with Healthcare for All WNC, a regional chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (pnhp.org), I ask people to share their health care stories with us. We are developing a documentary based on those stories and will use them for public and congressional educational outreach. Anybody interested in this project should contact me at: lourocturner@gmail.com or 828-508-0314. Or at least share them with our clueless congressional representatives. Health care is at a tipping point: everybody in, nobody out. As in Medicare for All.

— Roger Turner
Asheville

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One thought on “Letter: Health care is at a tipping point

  1. Curious

    Mr. Turner says, “Don’t tell me the federal government can’t manage a health care system.” Medicare is not a health care system; it is an insurance program. The VA might be considered the federal government’s health care system. Medicare, administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, contracts out with private insurance companies (official Medicare administrative contractors) to process Medicare claims. Medicare for All, or probably the more likely plan, Medicare for Anyone Who Wants It, may work; and it will provide business for those private contractors (ie insurance companies) to process more claims.

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