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Opinion

Letters: Risky business of health insurance

Re “What is insurance good for?,” Opinion, Jan. 5

Unfortunately, George P. Shultz, Scott W. Atlas and John F. Cogan are years late and billions of dollars short of a practical solution to health insurance problems.

Routine care was once inexpensive enough that individuals could afford to use insurance only for catastrophic expenses, as the authors prescribe. After years of inflation fueled by third-party payments, the cost of much routine care is so high that it is almost as unaffordable as hospital treatment.

Sure, health savings accounts, or HSAs, may sound like a convenient solution. But how many Americans can really afford them?

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They won’t change the fact that if insurance doesn’t cover basic costs, many will forgo care and treatable conditions will go undiagnosed until late stages, yielding greater long-term costs and worse outcomes.

Relying on HSAs to fund routine care is like telling both the rich and the poor to pay out of pocket for what they need. Is that really what insurance is supposed to accomplish?

Daniel J. Stone, MD

Los Angeles

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I agree that insurance is indeed about protecting against risk. But the authors compare apples to oranges when they equate automobile and homeowners insurance to medical coverage.

While buying gasoline will not reduce damage to my car in an accident, and painting my house cannot protect it from fire or theft, routine medical care lowers overall medical costs through earlier diagnoses and preventive treatment.

Isn’t it in the best interest of medical insurers to subsidize these costs?

Nancy Garf Moses

Irvine

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