To the Editor:
“The Body Count at Home,” by Nicholas D. Kristof (column, Sept. 13), provides further evidence that we need to reform the way people get health insurance in the United States.
Nikki White, who died of lupus at 32, clearly needed health insurance, but that doesn’t mean we need the government-controlled health system that Mr. Kristof seems to admire.
Tying health insurance to the workplace isn’t working for tens of millions of people in our highly mobile work force, and it tragically failed Ms. White. She could have received the care that she needed if she had insurance that was stable and portable and that was not dependent upon her job.
We need to provide subsidies directly to people so they can purchase the health coverage of their choice. We need to give people more options in how they purchase insurance that are not necessarily reliant on the workplace, so they can get affordable, portable coverage.
Once people have insurance, they should be guaranteed they can renew it. We need a stronger safety net at the local and state levels to provide extra help to people with expensive and chronic medical needs.
If we would start by making these sensible reforms, which could gain bipartisan support, we could help millions like Ms. White without the divisiveness that we see in today’s health reform debate.
Alexandria, Va., Sept. 14, 2009
The writer is president of the Galen Institute, a research organization focusing on health policy.