Regarding Rondi Adamson's July 6 Opinion piece, "Canada sensibly embraces right to private health insurance": Canadians may be interested in private healthcare because they haven't thought through the consequences.
For example, where will the doctors in the new private sector come from? They'll probably come from the public health system, making the wait times there even longer than before.
Ms. Adamson praises service received from the current system, once the wait is over. It seems to me that the system isn't broken, it's just too small for the demand. That can be easily corrected, given time and a larger budget.
The Supreme Court of Canada has opened the doors to a Canada where being wealthier also automatically means being healthier. We need to open our eyes to ensure this doesn't happen.
Adamson says, that with healthcare competition, "I'd assume that ultimately good things would trickle down to me [as a patient under national healthcare] in the form of - for starters - shorter waiting times and fewer doctors leaving Canada."
I agree in part. Those with cash or insurance would certainly see shorter waits for every sort of treatment. I'm less sure that those unable to pay would have better access.
We might see fewer doctors leave the country, but would they be staying to treat only higher-paying private patients? We'd still lose doctors, perhaps even more, to a private medical system.
While all the "good things ... trickle down" (and trickling is slow by definition), how many people will end up worse off than now?
After reading Adamson's Opinion piece, one is left with the impression that the Canadian national healthcare system does not meet expectations and is a bit inferior.
Adamson cites statistics from a June 2004 poll finding that Canadians would prefer having a two-tier system. This should not come as a surprise to citizens in countries that have a national healthcare system, who long for some sort of private medicine to complement, but not supplant, the present system.
Even if the Canadian system entails waiting time for referrals and surgery,it is still much better and more humane than having no insurance at all, or not being able to see a doctor because of the outrageous prices for medical care and medicines.
For those Americans who are uninsured - 45 million as of 2003 - the Canadian national health system would seem to be a blessing. Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege.
Robert A. Vieites
In response to the June 28 article, "In Alaska, 68 miles of contentious asphalt": I think it's a shame that Alaska is considering developing this highway. Juneau is a unique city in that the only way to get there is by sea or air. I've never been there, but I have considered moving there and may do so in a few years. However, if this road is built, I would probably change my mind.
This city represents an alternative to the mainstream and conventional cities in America. It attracts a certain type of person. It represents an opportunity to live in a community that is not as open to outside influence.
Maybe this is naiveté and ignorance on my part, but I can't help thinking that adding a road would change that permanently.
We would really be losing something special if that road goes in. I hope the local community and citizens of Alaska take a stand on this and never let it become even a consideration again.
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