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Outreach program diverts dollars from health care delivery

Health Care Reform (2009)

We applaud the work of the public and nonprofit agencies that seek out uninsured Marylanders to enroll in health insurance programs ("Maryland seeks uninsured to inform about health reform Sept. 7). Research shows that having insurance reduces health disparities and improves well-being.

The lengths to which these folks must go shows again the folly of Obamacare. No other advanced nation has to find people who don't have insurance — because everyone has insurance. Each dollar spent in outreach and enrollment is diverted from the actual delivery of health care.

Yet this care is desperately needed in a city where life expectancy in many neighborhoods is equivalent to that of the world's most impoverished nations. Life expectancy in both Upton and Eritrea is 62.9 years; life expectancy in both Poppleton and Madagascar is 64 years.

Of course, health insurance isn't the only factor in limiting the number of years our neighbors live; poverty, inequality, racism and inadequate housing are also important. For example, people experiencing homelessness are three to four times more likely to die than people of the same age who are housed.

As we wrestle with these very difficult problems, it is tragic that unnecessary resources are diverted into administrative activities. These wasteful pursuits include not only enrolling people in insurance, but also supporting a private insurance infrastructure that delivers not an iota of health care.

Our neighbors around the world have figured this out. For example, the decidedly capitalist Taiwan, with the help of American advisers, created an efficient single-payer system in 1995. Groups like National Nurses United, the Vermont Workers Center and Maryland Healthcare-Now! are working for this common-sense solution.

Let's join them. We don't need more dollars for our health care; we need more health care for our dollars.

Jeff Singer, Baltimore

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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