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When Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., first proposed the idea of improving the private health care insurance industry, I wrote him, suggesting that the industry was the problem, not a solution. Individual doctors or the hospital’s insurance carriers control what is covered and how reimbursement will be made.

The result has been shorter, less personal patient visits and the physician detaching him/herself from any discussion of cost. Patients feel no need to discuss these matters because they are “covered” by their insurance. Unfortunately, as with so many things, financial gain became a factor that took advantage of this detachment. At the conclusion of a doctor visit, the doctor notifies the front desk of all possible diagnoses attributable to, for instance, the patient complaint of a “bad cold.” Included could be pharyngitis, otitis media, testing for influenza, cough due to post-nasal drip, impending sinusitis. A specially trained person looks up these various diagnoses in a “code book” and punches the numbers into a central billing center. And that is that. Charges are automated. This bypasses any discussion of what will be the most effective and inexpensive way to handle the patient complaint.

All the talk between our two political parties has been about who will pay private insurance premiums. There has been no discussion concerning means of improving health care.

Mike Dennison’s (July 8) article that told of the horrendous hospital bill ($1,000) for getting three sutures into a cut finger, shows that he is on the right track with his thinking. The bill included inflated figures for anything even remotely tied to fixing the cut. After the patient complained, there were some reductions made. But the basic premise is that insurance has run amok. I hope readers will think about his article.

Ralph K. Campbell, Polson

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