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posted: 3/3/2010 12:01 AM

Health plan has many paying for the few

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What began as health care insurance "reform" has now become "health care reform." That could be fine, as long as it doesn't mean a government takeover of the health care industry.

No government operation - post office, Amtrak, Medicare, etc. - is a paragon of operational or managerial effectiveness. They all cost more and provide less than promised.

We need to reduce health care costs, even more than we need to provide health care insurance for the roughly 10 percent of American who don't have it. Those people can get health care now, in almost any hospital or doctor's office, on a "public aid" basis. Only the clerk who checks them in knows. They receive the same "standard of care." No crisis.

It looks as though the administration's plan would provide insurance coverage for the 10 percent who now lack health insurance, at a cost increase of roughly 50 percent, slightly more than $1 trillion. Anyone who thinks that would be a bargain needs to have his head examined.

Considering that those people receive care now under public aid, replacing that program with insurance should be virtually an even-steven trade.

Liability, or rather insurance to cover practitioners' and hospitals' risks, is the largest single component of health care costs, at roughly 40 percent. The answer to that is rational tort reform. The public likes that idea, but the administration doesn't. Similarly, the public likes "portable" insurance, so when a person changes jobs, his insurance policy stays in force and goes with him. Another feature any "health care reform" plan should have is marketing of health care insurance across state lines.

Lastly, all this should be worked out in front of the American public, not behind closed doors.

Peter G. Malone

St. Charles