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Fury at Insurers

"Why Insurers Are Winning" (Cover Story, Aug. 17), about how insurers are maneuvering behind the scenes to shape health-care reform, provoked a town hall-style shouting match on Many commenters were incensed that UnitedHealth (UNH) and other carriers hold so much sway over Congress, though a United employee vigorously defended the company, saying it knows health care "far better than the policy wonks in Washington." — Chad Terhune

UnitedHealth's attempt to snow Congress with technological bling is just their style—to confuse and distract from the ultimate issue: that insurance companies take 35% of premiums off the top.

Screen name: Dr. Fred

Unless something drastic happens, I believe it will be just as BusinessWeek says: any original good intentions in this legislation will be so watered down as to be negligible, and Big Insurance will get even bigger.

Screen name: Jules Robertson

No, the insurance industry hasn't won yet, but there may not be enough Democrats with a spine to resist.

Screen name: chuck

My blood froze as I read this article. What gives corporations the sacrosanct right to profit from my health care when the government can do it better and more cost effectively?

Screen name: FredTheDistraught

I am a policy wonk and not a fan of the big insurers. But United is right about the public plan. Medicare pays providers 20% to 30% less than private insurers. Providers shift the costs to private insurers. The public plan will have lower premiums. Within 4 to 5 years, the private insurers will be out of business.

Screen name: Sam

Let's see. We're going to spend less for health benefits and yet United expects to make higher profits? Our representatives are already working with the insurance industry to "constrain" benefits [for the newly insured]. Sounds a lot like rationing—by a huge for-profit industry that rewards its executives for acting as if they work on Wall Street.

Mike Zigelman, MD


I am an RN working for UnitedHealth. What I have been told repeatedly is that quality is our cornerstone. No one has ever suggested I shortchange any member's services in the name of profit.

I am proud that United has a hand in health-care reform. They know health care far better than the policy wonks in Washington.

Screen name: Another UHG Nurse

Short Shrift for High-Speed Rail

"Small Airports Drop Off the Radar" (What's Next, Aug. 17) reports that Congress gave $1.8 million in federal subsidies to a small airport in Ely, Nev., that served 414 passengers last year. Amtrak gets an annual subsidy of about $50 per passenger. I don't begrudge the 4,041 residents of Ely their air service, but imagine the high-speed rail we could have for $4,500 per passenger!

Steve King


When Banks Decide Not to Lend

Like Norwalk Furniture, my business has been seriously impacted by my bank's refusal to provide additional credit during this crisis ("The Factory That Refused To Die," In Depth, Aug. 3).

I've done business with Banco Popular (BPOP) for more than 20 years. It holds the mortgages to my business and home and has financed company cars. We have an excellent credit rating. Not only has the bank said no to a loan for a government project; it also wants to reduce our credit line.

We've found another bank willing to work with us. I urge business owners in the same situation to visit other banks and talk to the managers. Smart ones can distinguish good customers from dunderheaded CEOs.

Benjamin Brown

Schafer & Brown Electronics


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