The Eagle Tribune

To the editor:

I usually agree with Barbara Anderson, and I commend her efforts to help pass Proposition 2 1/2, which has kept local property taxes from exploding.

But on her opposition to a public payer option for health insurance that she has written about two weeks in a row, Anderson is totally wrong.

First, it is undisputed that Americans pay more per capita for health care than citizens of any other country in the world, yet in health outcomes, we rank about 35th among all developed countries. So let’s put an end to the big lie being promulgated by the private health insurance industry that our health care system is excellent.

Second, it is absurd that health insurance is being provided by employers. This is a consequence of employers during World War II looking to offer employees a bonus that did not violate the wage controls imposed during the war. Having your employer control from whom who you get your health insurance makes as much sense as having your employer control your family’s diet or where you can live. Lose your job or have your hours cut, you lose your health insurance and get forced to pay even more outrageous premiums (if you can afford them) as an individual policyholder because you are now, for all intents and purposes, an insurance group of one.

Third, there is no free market for health insurance, as the private health insurance industry constantly claims. Employers decide which health insurance plan they’ll provide to their employees. There is no choice. There are zero incentives for private health insurers to lower premiums. Only the highly paid execs of the health insurance industry and their enablers in Congress continue to claim there is a free market in health care. hey charge as much as they can get away with. I know — I run a small business.

Fourth, the dirty little secret of the private health insurance industry is how they slice and dice groups applying for health insurance into the smallest, hence most expensive, insurance pools possible.

Since most Americans work for small businesses, this means we are being charged as though we are effectively self-insured.

Contrary to what Ms. Anderson says, health care coverage is so broken and so expensive that the only cure will come from a major overhaul of how it is provided, not the minuscule changes she and the protectors of private health insurance companies advocate. We need a public payer plan because that will create the large national pool necessary to generate genuine competition to the current monopoly in the health insurance industry and provide true large-scale buying power on our behalf with doctors, hospitals and the drug companies.

Without a government-provided single payer plan, we will be stuck with a continuation of the high cost of tiny sliced up pools created by the private health insurers. Let’s not forget that private health insurers are merely members of the financial services industry, and we’ve all seen how their unchecked greed pushed us into the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

Bob Pokress, Andover