Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My LTE about Healthcare

Hey! My letter to the editor was published today in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution! I was actually about to just post it to the blog anyway, because I figured it didn't actually make it in the paper. (I know sometimes they have space issues, or just change their minds.) Am I glad that I double-checked the AJC website!

I think the AJC still requires registration to get into their website, so here's the text of my letter (the first one):

Government caused disparity in insurance

“Individual coverage frustrates Georgians” (News, June 21) ignores the fundamental reason for disparity between employer-provided group health insurance and private individual health insurance: government interference. It is not “economies of scale” or having an HR department to advocate on an employee’s behalf that account for the fact that group health insurance offers coverage with greater options and breadth than individual plans.

From ERISA laws, to the creation of HMOs to mandated employer-provided coverage, to COBRA and HIPAA laws, actions taken by the federal government are responsible for creating this inequity in the marketplace, by eliminating a market in which companies are free to compete.

As insurance companies have been forced to tailor their group products to the government’s demands, they have offset the costs of government compliance in the only other area of their businesses where they are freer to make actual business decisions —- individual health plans.

The only solution is to free insurance companies, employers and private citizens like me from the shackles of regulations.

They did a little tweaking but it's mostly the same as the piece I submitted. I added the line breaks above, because it was printed in the paper as one paragraph. Guess I'm used to blog-style publishing, with lots of line breaks; it looked weird to me as one paragraph.

Here's a link to the original piece "Individual coverage frustrates Georgians." In case you're registered.

So. There it is. I'm very pleased about this, because it was very interesting and rather fun to write (even though the original article irked me). And also it was fun to write about something other than my usual (though beloved!) topics. :o)

It was challenging to write this in a more formal style than I do on the blog--but it was an enjoyable challenge. And it was surprising to me how l-o-n-g it took me to compose that little thing. I enjoy writing--no, scratch that. I enjoy having completed well-written pieces. I do not enjoy the process of writing quite as much. It's "fun" in the hard-working, slightly painful sense of the word "fun." Do any of you regular bloggers suffer from such a dilemma?

I'll probably do it again. :o)


Beth said...

Congrats on being published! Also, thanks for "speaking" out against government health care.

It is hard to write briefly.
I had an LTE published in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) years ago on health care not being a right. I remember being irked that they changed what I wrote. Not much...just replaced my use of "man" with "humans" or something PC like that, but it really bothered me they could make that change and still sign my name to it!! It was frustrating to have my style altered (without permission!) after spending so much time to craft it the way I wanted it.
Keep writing. It's so great you got published!

Mrs. C said...

Good for you, Jenn!

Amy said...

Good letter, Jenn. Congrats!

I also suffer from painful-writing-syndrome when trying to do LTE's. I never have that feeling when writing for my own blog. The blog writing can be difficult and sometimes tortuous, but the pain of LTE's is different. Thanks for mentioning it, because I really don't know why and I'll need to think about that.

I just paused and thought about it (and read what Beth said about how difficult it is to write briefly) and I suspect that, for me, I'm making a mistake in not delimiting my purpose/theme enough for the brief nature of the letter. I'll start out with the idea of writing a LTE about "why our healthcare system is a disaster" and then, of course, I'll never be able to figure out what to include.

With blogging, you can make your article as long as the subject requires, within certain limits, and also, you know in the back of your mind that you can always add to what you said another day. Each blog post is part of a larger whole. A LTE is short and final. That is difficult.

Not sure that's the whole problem, though. The thought of writing one still gives me the willies.

Principled Parent said...

Congratulations Jenn! It's a great letter.

jody said...

I had never thought of this aspect of cost in employer group healthcare programs. I am so glad you blog because you keep me thinking!