COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

This letter is in response to Eugene and Barbara Smith’s open letter to Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Rep. Adam Schiff (“Health-care plan is not one we can afford,” Aug. 14) regarding their opposition to current proposed health-care reform.

As self-proclaimed “influential” Democrats and senior citizens, the Smiths are certainly misinformed of the intent of the various health-care-reform proposals presented for consideration by members of their chosen political party, including Medicare reform, legislation both past and present supported by all of the government representatives they mentioned.

But of particular interest is their suggestion that we, as citizens of the United States, “have been pummeled so low as to be satisfied with the system offered in the United Kingdom and Canada,” whatever that was supposed to mean. They offered no support for their implication that those health-care systems are somehow inferior.

The Smiths are obviously unaware of the facts. Both the United Kingdom and Canada have longer life expectancy than the United States. Both the U.K. and Canada have lower birth mortality rates than the U.S., as do several Third World countries.

Annual deaths per capita from cancer are lower in both the U.K. and Canada, compared with the U.S. Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world, and Canada has a much lower annual rate of death from heart disease than the U.S. And just for a kicker, teen pregnancies and obesity are astronomically higher in the U.S. than in both the U.K. and Canada.

And here’s the most interesting fact: According to the U.N. World Development report, annual health-care costs per capita in the United States ($6,096), from both private and public (meaning taxpayer provided) are almost twice that of Canada ($3,173) and approaching three times that of the United Kingdom ($2,560).

So besides the United Kingdom and Canada’s health-care systems doing a better job of keeping people healthy, keeping seniors living longer, keeping more babies alive, fewer people dying of cancer and heart disease, fewer teen pregnancies and less obesity of the general population, and costing much less in both private and taxpayer dollars, what exactly do they not like about those programs?

According to a recent Gallup poll, satisfaction with the health-care systems in Canada and the U.K. are both at 85%, with 100% of the population insured, unlike the U.S., having more than 46 million without any heath insurance at all.

These are facts that be easily found by doing simple Internet searches to find reports and statistics provided by various reputable international health agencies. The numbers speak volumes.

There is a lot of misinformation being spread and fear tactics being used by those who financially benefit from the status quo of our broken heath-care and health-insurance systems.

Don’t take the bad bait. Get the facts first, and then participate in an intelligent conversation to make things better, because Eugene and Barbara Smith are not.


 MARK STEBBEDS is a Burbank resident.

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