President Bush's health-care vision

The president should have felt complimented during his State of the Union speech when someone applauded in anticipation of his embracing a nationalized health system, which, alas, was not what he had in mind.

In the gloriously free-enterprise medical practice the president defends, the first question asked a patient is not, "Where does it hurt and how may we help you?" but "How are you going to pay for this?" This is true in the private medical clinic or the general hospital, and it is shocking.

As an Army family, our family was served for 20 years by a "socialized" health system while my husband served the country as a soldier. Those in the Armed Forces are glad to have such health-care services available. The doctors serve with professionalism and compassion.

The people they serve do not give much thought to which doctor may be on duty when they check in for help, but are served uniformly well (no pun intended). If there were times in our family's experience when treatment went amiss, I do not believe this was more frequent, and perhaps less so, than in private civilian systems. The system can work and it does. Ask a GI. Joy Walker Dineen, Severna Park, Md.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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