A Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

A letter from Judith W. Gardner in the September 23 edition of Foster's Daily Democrat advocates a "single-payer" health-care system, and inveighs against insurance companies who "skim off profits from money that should go for caring of the sick."

An article by David Goldhill in the September 2009 issue of the Atlantic magazine throws cold water on the simplistic notion that if only we could eliminate profit from the health care system all would be well. He noted that if we were to (somehow) confiscate all the yearly profits of the "famously greedy health-insurance companies", that money would pay for about four days of health care for all Americans.

If you throw in the profits of the ten largest US drug companies, another favorite whipping boy, that would buy you another seven days.

And finally, even if you were to grab all the profits from all American companies in every industry, you "wouldn't cover even five months of our health-care expenses."

Ms. Gardner doesn't like Senator Baucus's proposed legislation; neither do I, probably for very different reasons. But scapegoating private companies, and pretending all would be well if not for their "large profits" is fallacious. We need reality-based discussions on this issue; a good place to start would be to realize that there's no "free lunch" to be had by plundering private enterprises and their profits.

Yours truly,

Paul A. Sand