Opinion

Loma Linda residents live a long time. They're also close to a top-ranked hospital — coincidence?

To the editor: Jonah Goldberg left out a very important piece of information in his column exploring why the residents of Loma Linda live on average 10 years longer than other Americans. (“Loma Linda residents live a really, really long time. It's not because of their health insurance,” Opinion, May 30)

Goldberg suggests that the Seventh-Day Adventist residents of that city have good outcomes because of lifestyle (they do not smoke or eat meat, and they exercise regularly) and not because of their health insurance. He does not mention that most people there have access to Loma Linda University Medical Center, one of the top medical facilities in the state. Residents’ healthy lifestyle combined with excellent healthcare and health education set Loma Linda apart from other places.

It would be interesting to find out what percentage of Loma Linda residents actually have health insurance. Perhaps these people really do live a long time because of their insurance.

Ken Weinstock, Alameda, Calif.

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To the editor: Goldberg throws shade on the putative factors linked to better health, but another issue trumps his story: the fact that healthcare will soon bankrupt the country unless we find a more cost effective way to pay for it.

Government-sponsored universal plans are a means to achieve an equitable and cost-effective system of healthcare.

William K. Solberg, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Goldberg makes an interesting point about the factors that enable certain cultures to maintain healthy lifestyles and, thus, he argues, longer lifespans.

He then presents the astonishing 20-year gap in lifespans between people born in Summit County, Colo., and people born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, arguing that “these discrepancies have much more to do with lifestyle than insurance.”

When my college composition students make these kinds of assertions, I ask them to provide evidence to support their claim. Goldberg supplies none, relying on implied stereotypes of people living in poverty.

Liz Lew, Woodland Hills

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