Opinion | Ross Douthat’s Change of Heart About Health Care

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To the Editor:

Re “Being Sick Changed My Views on Health Care,” by Ross Douthat (column, Jan. 20):

I say to Mr. Douthat, “Welcome aboard; now keep on moving leftward.”

Ross, if you can become more left-wing about one issue, medical care, because it affected you personally, then why not on myriad other things that affect other Americans?

Why is it that you and other conservatives who aren’t mean or cheap or bad people can be “left-wing” only when you can see it and touch it personally? There are countless examples — conservatives who finally embrace L.G.B.T.Q. rights when their child or neighbor comes out, or see addiction as a problem when it shows up in their family, and so on.

Good work, Ross, but please keep moving!

Steven Carlson
Easton, Conn.

To the Editor:

I find shocking Ross Douthat’s conclusion that “whatever everyday health insurance coverage is worth to the sick person, a cure for a heretofore-incurable disease is worth more.” Really? For millions of people, do family security, reduced depression and financial stress, and increased use of health services — all findings from the Oregon Medicaid study that Mr. Douthat cites — count so little?

Mr. Douthat’s policy prescriptions are skewed by his personal experience. If his experience had been the anxiety of delayed health care or threatened bankruptcy, that would skew his lens differently.

Moreover, there are many disincentives to innovation that have little to do with universal coverage. The medical establishment is by its nature conservative and unwelcoming to pathfinders; many solutions are not profitable because they’re cheap or the numbers affected are small; and huge resources are wasted on drug advertising and insurance bureaucracies that are rarely patient-friendly.

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