Insurance profits versus patients

Re "Doctors balk at request for data," Feb. 12

The attempt by Blue Cross to enlist doctors as informants was an effort to prevent those sick enough to require coverage from getting it. This letter to doctors was only the latest of the insurance companies' tactics for denying care for preexisting conditions. Others have included retroactively dumping coverage after trumping up charges that a patient wasn't completely honest on an initial application, and leaving the patient holding the bill for treatment that the insurance company already promised to pay for.

Insurance companies say they're in the business of providing healthcare, but as stories like this indicate, often they make more profit by not providing care. At a minimum, the state should tell them that they can't use doctors to spy on their patients -- the doctor-patient relationship is far more important than an insurance company's profits.

Michael Russo

Los Angeles

The writer is healthcare advocate and staff attorney with the California Public Interest Research Group.

These are the people our politicians want to turn our healthcare over to? They will always be coming up with ways to maximize profits and minimize care. Health insurance is comforting to the healthy but too often useless to those who need it the most -- those who are seriously ill. Buying medical insurance is like going to Las Vegas -- the odds are against you.

Steve Huffsteter


This article made clear the lengths to which health insurance companies go to avoid paying for healthcare. First they sell policies to unsuspecting consumers. Then they work like the dickens to avoid paying for care. We delude ourselves if we believe that we do not have healthcare rationing in this country. This is but one example.

How much better off we would be if we had a sensible, single-payer national health plan in this country. Under such a plan, physicians, nurses and other providers would go on working in private settings, but the payment would come from a national entity, much like Medicare works today. The doctor or medical group would not have to maintain an enormous staff to negotiate with multiple insurance companies and plans, all with different rules and forms. A doctor would not have to spend hours every week negotiating with insurance company clerks to secure needed care for patients.

As a nation, we would not waste 30% of every healthcare dollar as we do now on marketing, administration, executive salaries and profit. Instead, we could spend in the single digits to administer a Medicare-like program for all.

Donald Broder MD

Studio City

Insurers ought to be scorned for their behavior. No one ought to be surprised that they had the audacity to ask doctors to breach patient confidentiality, but all should be disgusted. Alternatively, physicians who received such letters and refused ought to be lauded for their adherence to the Hippocratic oath and their commitment to the well-being and privacy of their patients. It is this sort of behavior on the part of insurance providers that drives home the need for some sort of government intervention in healthcare.

Olivia Bain

Mission Viejo

Research and responsibility