Quality health care can also be affordable

I appreciate your addressing the cumbersome matter of health-care reform in the editorial "Health care redux" (Nov. 16). You are right in suggesting that only 6 percent of the public is paying attention to this debate conducted by the presidential candidates.

The United States spends a much greater proportion of its resources on health care than any other country, even though it has 44 million uninsured people. This is not a matter of choice; it's a matter of affordability.

Health care expenditures in the US per capita in 1997 were $4,090, whereas Canada's were $2,095, Australia's were $1,805, and the United Kingdom's were only $1,347. Yet those countries have universal coverage.

The Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey suggests that "universal choice" is not the "most basic issue in health care" in the US, as your editorial states. This study shows that "affordability of health care was the most frequently cited problem" in the US. "In Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, people are most concerned with the level of government health care funding." That is a different issue from affordability.

Furthermore, the study suggests that a national health care program, or "government interference," as you chose to call it, can deliver universal health care more cost effectively and without a reduction in quality.

You are right when you say that "more care must be taken to build a public consensus and embrace an approach that serves all Americans" in attempting to reform our system. However, this can happen only if the core issues regarding reform are placed on the table free of interference from those organizations that are reaping billions in profits through health care.

Ted Rempel Bow, Wash.

Respect nonbelievers in Bible teaching

I heartily support your editorial "The Bible and the schools" (Nov. 22). Teaching the Bible should avoid promoting a particular faith. It is also essential to teach about religion in a way that does not cause children or parents who do not believe in or practice any organized religion to feel slighted, embarrassed, or pressured to change their beliefs.

This should also apply to people of agnostic or atheistic views, and teaching about religion should make it clear that people holding such beliefs can be just as decent, upstanding, moral, and honorable as those who are professed believers in one of the widely accepted faiths.

Stanley Scott Clayton, Calif.

Final answer: Less junk TV

Despite being ridiculed by friends and family, I admit proudly that I have not subscribed to cable television for almost three years. After reading Jeffrey Shaffer's column "That's your final answer?" (Nov. 26), I feel vindicated for my conscientious choice to avoid the banality. Mainstream television programming continues to be a barren wasteland devoid of any thought or innovation. It is no surprise that trivial game shows and silly cartoons garner top ratings.

Over the last 50 years, instead of television evolving into a revolutionary medium to inspire and educate us, it remains a source of empty entertainment. The effects on humans viewing a steady diet of these inane shows and productions are similar to those obtained from eating a steady diet of junk food. Like the body, the mind too can become flabby and lethargic. Really, why is the television referred to as the "boob tube"? I wonder if a host will ever ask this question on one of those new, trendy game shows. Probably not. It may prove too difficult for those in television land to answer.

Jason Lee Shade Sacramento, Pa.

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