NYT Letter: Astute advice for Buffett, Bezos and Dimon

February 1, 2018

The New York Times
January 31, 2018
Letter:  The 3 Giants’ Health Plan
To the Editor:
Re “3 Giants Form Health Alliance, Rocking Insurers” (front page, Jan. 31):
Before spending lots of time, effort and money developing a new health care “product,” Warren E. Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase should realize that using a market approach to health care has failed miserably in this country.
They should go with Mr. Buffett’s earlier assessment. He suggested that despite “limited knowledge,” he thought that single payer is probably the best system, adding: “We are such a rich country. In a sense, we can afford to do it.”
Instead of reinventing the wheel, they should consult a group of experts who understand the needs of patients and populations and who have for many years studied the public policies that can best fulfill these needs. Physicians for a National Health Program, on whose board I sit, would be glad to oblige.
ELIZABETH R. ROSENTHAL
LARCHMONT, N.Y.
The writer is a dermatologist.
===
Comment by Don McCanne
It is great news that these icons of the business world – Buffett, Bezos and Dimon – recognize that there are serious problems with our health care system and that they want to do something about it. But looking for technological advances to build on and tweak our current system will leave in place most of the flawed policies that result in very high costs with only mediocre performance.
There is no doubt that they could make some improvements within a customized system designed to serve their own employees, even if also extended to employees of other larger corporations. But most individuals outside of their companies would still be exposed to our highly dysfunctional system, so the net social good would be very limited.
On the other hand, if they advocated for a well designed single payer system, it would bring to their own businesses the efficiencies which would achieve their goal of cost containment while at the same time improving the allocation of our resources within the entire health care delivery system – serving well not only their companies but all of us. Further, it is likely that it would be much less expensive for them to advocate for a single payer system than to spend large sums in trying to leverage their own internal systems with expensive technological innovations – innovations that frequently fall far short of their idealistic goals.
These gentlemen have a chance to make a difference. Before they pull all stops, they should take a very careful look at a better system that would serve all of us quite well. Elizabeth Rosenthal’s astute, concise advice should be considered and pursued.

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Comments

4 Responses to “NYT Letter: Astute advice for Buffett, Bezos and Dimon”

  1. rebecca spoon on February 1st, 2018 5:15 pm

    Yes these gentlemen have a chance to make all the difference in the world. So did Obama and Democrats (when we gave that chance to them). So do Democrats who are in control in California (and to whom we have given the opportunity to make all the difference) today. All of them have made their choice and have chosen not to do so. This is what we deserve for remaining silent and even praising and defending Obamacare as a “step in the right direction”. Now oligarchs want to take us even further in that direction, down that privatized road. The trouble is, that is the WRONG direction. We stood by and let Obama and Democrats take us there without much of fight at all. We are standing by and letting them take us even further in that direction now. They have a firm grip on power and are not letting go because too much is never enough for some people. They will offer us a few more crumbs because Obamacare proved crumbs are all they need to keep us eating out of their hands. Shame on us.

  2. bharrisonspny on February 1st, 2018 5:33 pm

    Thanks for writing your piece in a succinct to the point fashion. It is quite amazing how we keep avoiding that every human being has the right to health care according to the Declaration of Human Rights. We have no sense of community in this country. I believe that organizations that advocate for single payer need to hire more people who can get out into the nooks and crannies of this country, and speak with people in the flesh to give them the tools to speak out for themselves and would allow them do the lobbying. I have more specifics in mind, but I will leave it here.

  3. rebecca spoon on February 1st, 2018 6:25 pm

    If the Dow Jones average overall had done as well as the just private health unsurance sector has done (just since Obamacare passed), it would be around 50,000 today. Do you think any of these guys know that?

  4. bharrisonspny on February 1st, 2018 7:39 pm

    Whether they know or care are two different things. Their hands are in so many pies. Whether the market goes up or down they make out like bandits.

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