Our letters section and your opportunity to weigh in and be heard. Send us your thoughts and profundities. You can contact us here.

Terminal condition of health care

To the Editors:

I’m like a lot of you (one of 70 million Baby Boomers). I’m middle-aged (63 and no Medicare). I’m self-employed (no employer co-payment). I was recently among the ranks of the uninsured (healthy as a horse) until my wife made me get a health care insurance policy (to protect my real estate holdings in case of a catastrophe).

I now pay $287 a month ($3,444/ yr) for a $5,000 deductible policy with Blue Cross-Blue Shield.

I recently went to my family doctor (first time in 15 yrs) for a check up. It cost $87 out of pocket. If I went to him once a week for a year, it would cost $4,524 out of pocket because I would not have reached my $5,000 deductible. If you threw in a few blood tests, and an x-ray or two, it would still be out of my pocket.

So, for a $3,444 annual insurance premium and 52 weekly office visits (what fun), miscellaneous x-rays and testing for, say, $4,900 (I’m getting close): my Blue Cross-Blue Shield Provider would still not have paid a penny this year as my deductible still has not been met. I’m relieved, however, that now I can break my arm, have my heart attack or wreck my car, and they will pay for SOME or MOST of it if I don’t get cancelled first (who really knows until it happens?)

Wait! It gets more absurd.

I use a Flovent inhaler for seasonal allergy breathing difficulty. A three-month supply costs $192 at Walmart ($2 cheaper than City Market). Online, Canada Pharmacy charges $99 (illegal to purchase). It is available at a pharmacy in San Carlos, Mexico, without a prescription for $50 (you do the math). It is made by the same manufacturer (Glaxo) as the Walmart item. However, the AMA and FDA say that medicine from Mexico (and Canada) is inferior and uncontrolled. (Why are the instructions on the Mexican Flovent inhalers printed in English? Duh!)

All of this leads me to this conclusion. I would gladly send my $287 monthly premium payment to the federal government as additional taxes if I could get a few free doctor visits, a couple of free medications, and maybe, a PSA test and an x-ray or two without any out-of-pocket expense, just like my buddies on Medicare who get it all for free. Washington will get an extra $287 a month (my own personal stimulus contribution). I get some free health care (I wouldn’t abuse the right, or, is it a privilege?) Blue Cross-Blue Shield gets nothing because they did nothing. At the very least, it would force Blue Cross-Blue Shield to lower my premium to $286 per month to compete. Hey! Saving a buck or two in this economy is a good thing.

I guess I should stop griping. Now that I’m a hard core, Mexican drug smuggler, when I get sent to the slammer, I’ll get all the free health care I need.

– Larry Morgan (patiently waiting for Medicare E for everyone), via e-mail

The global grocer

Dear Editors,    

I assume most of us know what a healthy diet looks like: a lot of fruits and vegetables, supplemented with intact foods that provide Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, and maybe some low-fat dairy. But how this really looks like at the checkout counter seems to surprise even my fellow health-food store shoppers. I get surprised looks and comments as my week’s worth of unprocessed groceries fill a large shopping cart at Durango Natural Foods. Almost all of these whole foods do not require refrigeration when consumed fresh and tend not to be wrapped. Therefore, my food choices save energy, hopefully keep my personal and system-wide health care costs down, and allow me to vote with my dollars to support the chain from organic grower to not-for-profit retailers. Especially as a health-care professional but also out of compassion for our natural systems, I encourage everyone to think about the impacts of our most routine behaviors such as shopping. The difficulty appears to be leaving the grey zone between what we know is good for us and daring to act on it. Take care of yourselves.  

– My warmest regards, Nora Flucke RN, via e-mail

A ‘Sensible’ marijuana policy

Dear Editors,

Over 70 percent of Breckenridge residents on Nov. 3 voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia under town law. In 2005, our state capital, Denver, became the first major city to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Isn’t it time that Durango also adopt a more sensible marijuana policy? Two local groups are already leading the way: Sensible Durango is working in our community to advocate for a change in our city code & SAFER Fort Lewis College is holding events on campus to raise awareness about the fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol and should be treated that way. Please contact sensibledurango@yahoo.com to get involved.

– Corey Chavez, Director of Sensible Durango

A call for real healthcare reform

Dear Editors,

This week, the Republican Party released its health care reform bill, and it is safe to say that this proposal for health care reform is a failure. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this plan only covers 3 million additional Americans and would leave more than 50 million uninsured in 2019. And for the people who have insurance, most would only receive a 3 percent decrease in premiums, if any. Finally, the GOP plan does not end the practice of refusing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and does not stop insurers from denying coverage to those who are sick. Most of the main concerns of the current system are outright ignored in this plan, even the ones both parties can agree need to be addressed! This proposal does not tackle the real needs of Americans. We need real reform, and the Republican plan doesn’t even come close. It’s time to stop playing politics and for both parties of Congress to fix our broken health care system.

– Barbara K. Webber, Health Action New Mexico

Nuclear naïveté?  

To the Editors:

President Obama naively suggests the world can be free of nuclear weapons if the U.S. and Russia commit to arms reduction.

Obama is negotiating a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia in December 2009 which could reduce the U.S. and Russian operational nuclear warhead arsenals from over 2,500 to 1,500 warheads each. The treaty assumes we can verify that the Russians destroyed their 1,000 warheads. The treaty will also reduce the number of long range missiles.

The reduction in U.S. nuclear/missile capabilities jeopardizes our national security because a number of other countries maintain nuclear weapons, including China, Pakistan and North Korea. Iran is currently developing nuclear weapons and Syria desires to have a nuclear capability.

The world will never be free of nuclear weapons because countries like North Korea and Iran are led by dictators who lust for the threatening power of nuclear weapons and the capability to use their nuclear arsenal against perceived enemies.

President Obama’s lofty rhetoric sounds wonderful to himself and the Nobel Peace (In Weakness) Prize Committee, but I doubt he will satisfy his appetite for appeasement and get the leaders of the nuclear armed countries around a camp fire to toast the elimination of nuclear weapons and merrily sing Kumbaya.

– Donald A. Moskowitz, via e-mail



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows