Although I strongly favor universal health care, I struggle with the idea of expanding our current system of medical-insurance-that-you-don’t-dare-use.

A recent visit I made to the Corvallis Clinic exemplifies some of the problems with this system: (1) A person is forbidden to see a specialist without first paying an internist or other general practitioner for a referral; (2) Doctors and their staff usually refuse to provide price quotes; (3) Under the terms of Obamacare, an “annual wellness visit” is supposed to be free to the consumer, but if you discuss an ailment during the visit you are billed several hundred dollars; (4) Whereas, a bill from a mechanic or building contractor comes with a cost breakdown — hourly rate, hours worked, costs of materials — the doctor’s bill comes with no explanation at all.

My three letters of inquiry concerning my bill were ignored. The doctor’s strategy is to wait a bit, and then to sick a collection agency on the patient. The patient pays ridiculous charges to avoid a ruined credit record.

We don’t need single-payer health care or even Obamacare to start fixing these problems. We can simply pass a law requiring doctors to state their charges in advance and spell out the costs on their invoices, as any other businessperson does. Why is it so hard to make such simple reforms?

Linda Ziedrich

Lebanon (Nov. 17)

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