The April 17 article “UnitedHealth sounds alarm on single-payer system” ought to have more forcefully explained David Wichmann’s clear conflict of interest on this topic. According to statements filed for the 2017 fiscal year, Mr. Wichmann made $17,389,976 as CEO of UnitedHealth Group, an average of $47,643.77 per day for a 365-day year. When he makes pronouncements about the future of health care in the United States, and about making sure more of us have access to quality care, it’s important to understand that his job and all his personal incentive centers on the stock price and the profitability of the company he runs, and none whatsoever on the well-being of the citizens of this country.
Of course he is speaking out against universal care of any kind; it would hurt the finances of the company he heads. He almost certainly has a whole team of people on this campaign. It’s startling to think he could buy a new car, and a nice one, outright, daily.
Merrill Aldrich, St. Paul
• • •
How about a little transparent light on health care and turn off the gaslight? Fifty-eight countries have some form of universal health care. Switzerland has an interesting combination of government-subsidized health care and private insurance. The private insurance is strictly regulated by the government. A ranking of 11 industrialized countries measuring quality, efficiency, access, equity and healthy lives ranked the U.S. last, No. 11. The World Health Organization has ranked us 37th globally. We have the most expensive health care system with the worst outcomes. We pay astronomical prices for medications. The last two years with our current president has seen a rise of 3.2 million more people now uninsured. Twenty-eight million people in this country have no insurance.
The American health care system run and regulated by corporate America is a disgrace. We all deserve better.
Claire Auckenthaler, Minneapolis
• • •
Wichmann was quoted as saying some startlingly inaccurate assumptions about the proposed system of “Medicare for All.” He stated that a universal health care system would “surely jeopardize the relationship people have with their doctors … and limit the ability of clinicians to practice medicine at their best.” Meanwhile, the Japanese, who have a universal health care system, visit their doctors and clinics at a rate almost three times the global average and have some of the best health outcomes in the world.
Americans are far less likely than comparable countries to have long-term relationships with primary care physicians and are much less likely to seek out care due to high costs. The Medicare for All system would significantly decrease the apprehension Americans have in seeking out care, thereby making health care far more accessible and improving our health outcomes.
Wichmann also claims that a universal health care system would have an “inherent cost burden” on the economy; however, when compared with Germany’s universal health care system, which is mostly funded through premiums paid for by employers and employees, German employers pay 10% less than American employers in health insurance premiums, making their system a better deal for all involved, especially considering the amount of health care services individuals are entitled to through that system.
The evidence can be seen here in the United States as well: According to a Gallup report, there is a 77% satisfaction rate with the Medicare system, compared to 65-69% satisfaction rate with the employer or individual buy-in system and only 41% satisfaction rate among the uninsured.
The profiteering on human lives and health in this country is abhorrent, which is why a universal health care system that would guarantee health care for all is the best choice for the progress of the American society.
Ali Jacobson, Minneapolis
• • •
I’d like to hear Wichmann explain just exactly how a single-payer health system would “jeopardize the relationship people have with their doctors.” Sounds to me like he’s trying to stoke up irrational fear to preserve a vested interest. Company earnings of $3.47 billion in three months. I’m an old coot; I’ve had many doctors for many things, specialists for one thing or another that don’t require ongoing relationships. I’ve changed doctors for my convenience. One moved to San Diego; I found another. What’s the big deal?
As to “destabilizing the nation’s health system,” that system is precisely the problem that needs solving. When I have a medical problem, I don’t want it regarded as a “claim” with some question as to whether it’s “covered” or “in-network.” I just want it taken care of without having to plead my case. Nor do I want what I pay for medications depend on a panel at Optima deciding how much of a sky-high arbitrary asking price that pharmaceutical companies peg their products at will be accepted, keeping quarterly earnings in mind.
James Wallace, Eden Prairie
• • •
I retired a few years ago, forcing a switch to Medicare from my employer-paid (except for my 20%) health insurance. The only disruption I experienced was a premium reduction; my Medicare premiums, including the part D supplement, were cheaper than my 20% contribution to my employer’s plan. I kept the exact same set of doctors and other health care providers, and even had my coverage through the same insurance provider.
A couple of years ago, I switched to an even cheaper plan with a different provider. But again, I continue to see my same doctors. The copays on this second Medicare Supplement plan are higher, but my premiums are lower. And the annual out-of-pocket max for both of my Medicare Supplement plans are lower than the annual out-of-pocket max for my former employer’s plan.
To summarize my experience switching from employer-paid insurance to Medicare: same docs, lower cost. I haven’t found this especially disruptive.
John Trepp, Minneapolis
Why Amazon wins
An April 14 letter writer complained about the pervasiveness of Jeff Bezos’ company Amazon. The reason why Amazon is doing so well turns out to be the sheer incompetence of other retailers. Case in point: I wanted to buy an iPad as a gift. I went to Costco. They did not have the configuration I wanted and were out of stock on a similar model. I was unable to find a staff person to research the available stock at other Costco stores. Went to Target. The helpful team member looked up the model and discovered 12 units in inventory, but when he unlocked the case there were none. Zero. Nada. There was no way to order the desired model and no prediction if or when the desired model would be back in stock. Went online. Amazon had the exact model desired at a price below that of both Costco and Target and offered free shipping to the out-of-town gift recipient.
Guess who got the order?
George Hutchinson, Minneapolis