Readers’ Views

Single-payer system would work

To the Editor:

“Single-payer” is not viewed as “free” health care. We would all pay into the single-payer system, just as we all currently pay into the patchwork of various systems in operation in the U.S. However, most individuals and most businesses would pay significantly less than they do currently.

Whether people would make unnecessary trips to the doctor is questionable and not substantiated. What is substantiated is that so-called “overuse” is less expensive than under-use, as defined by delaying or neglecting treatment of every little ache, pain and minor sore throat that later turns into a major serious illness. Minor conditions would no longer be addressed in emergency rooms, the most expensive way to provide treatment.

Regarding long waits, this allegation is usually attributed to the single-payer system in Canada. Canada, like the U.S., has more capacity for prompt treatment in certain geographic areas and for certain medical needs. However, I have never seen a study or analysis of the Canadian system that finds delays for emergencies or medical necessities in excess of what we experience in the U.S. if given comparable circumstances. It is true that some elective or non-emergency procedures have longer waiting times in Canada than in the U.S., depending on the financial resources of the U.S. patient. No one in Canada has longer waiting times that the millions of still uninsured Americans, including more than 200,000 uninsured Minnesotans.

The statement that single-payer pushes medical providers out of the profession would be difficult to substantiate. As an example, the state of Connecticut audited the private insurers who had been contracted to run its Medicaid program and found insurers were being overpaid by tens of millions of dollars. The state took over its Medicaid program and became the “single-payer.” Not only is Connecticut saving money, but doctors who previously would not treat Medicaid patients do so now, unburdened of the excessive bureaucratic paperwork and interference in the doctor/patient relationship previously imposed by private insurers.

Finally, single-payer as almost always proposed in the U.S. would not be government-run or “under government control.” Governmental or quasi-governmental agencies such as a “health care board” would be the funding source. At the same time, health care would be delivered by private and independent providers, such as doctors, clinics, hospitals, etc., both large and small.

Patients would be free to choose the provider(s) of choice while doing away with limiting “networks” imposed by private insurers. This system would return most of the control in providing health care to doctors and patients, where the control should be.

Peter Engstrom


Month focuses on certain cancers

To the Editor:

Martin County Relay for Life would like to bring to everyone’s attention that September is gynecological cancer awareness, ovarian cancer awareness, prostate cancer awareness, thyroid cancer awareness, blood cancer awareness and children cancer awareness month. During September, and year round, we honor and support those affected by these cancers.

An estimated 107,400 women will be affected with a gynecological cancer in the U.S. in 2017. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78. Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in U.S. men. Thyroid cancer is often diagnosed at a younger age than most other adult cancers. Every three months, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer. An estimated 10,270 children 14 and under will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. in 2017. This information is available on the American Cancer Society website. They are there to help you with many things. All you have to do is contact them at cancer.org. You will see a cancer help line number (800-227-2345) and a live chat.

At Martin County Relay for Life, our mission is to raise money to help in the fight against cancer and to support our survivors and caregivers. If anyone would like to be part of the leadership team, be a sponsor, start a Relay team for 2018 or for more information on the Relay, please contact Marsha Williams at (507) 236-2034.

Marsha Williams

Relay for Life leadership team



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