January 15, 2015

HEALTH CARE REFORM

Almost two years after Steven Brill revealed arbitrary, wildly incongruous billing in his “Bitter Pill” exposé of the U.S. health care system in TIME, readers were struck by his new proposals for reducing still exorbitant costs (Jan. 19). His idea that providers insure patients, for example, is a “creative and workable solution” that “best of all doesn’t require a national, centrally planned and funded health system,” said Lance Renault of Taylors, S.C.

But some, like Jennifer Fink, a nurse from Mayville, Wis., were skeptical of Brill’s idea to have doctor-CEOs ensure a patient-oriented culture. “Registered nurses–who staff hospitals 24/7– arguably have a much better idea of what it takes to provide complete care to patients and families than physicians who typically only see patients for minutes of their hospital stay,” she wrote. Meanwhile, Dr. Mark Wolgin of Albany, Ga., worried that conflicts of interest between being a caregiver and a CEO could “contaminate the doctor-patient relationship.” Others lamented the limited pool of providers. “What if the best doctor for a problem is in another system?” asked Carol Kraines of Deerfield, Ill., adding that “consolidation of power is always corruptive.”

Still others focused on existing models, specifically Kaiser Permanente–a “behemoth that [TIME] completely ignored,” wrote Dr. David Cornish of Stockton, Calif. “I have lived in many areas of the U.S.,” wrote Carol Czarnecki of Lake Oswego, Ore. “The care I have received from Kaiser is the best overall … and the cost is affordable even to someone like me who is retired and living on a fixed income.” And what about the system right under our noses? asked Dr. Alice Faryna of Columbus, Ohio. “We have a model which has very low administrative costs, good health care outcomes and does not rely on competition,” she wrote. “It’s called Medicare.”

LIGHTBOX

Haiti is marking the fifth anniversary of its devastating earthquake. As the nation has weathered decades of poverty, coups d’état and natural disasters, it has also cast a spell on photographers, who have returned repeatedly–simultaneously fascinated and frustrated by the Caribbean nation. Alex Webb (who took this photo in La Gonâve in 1986) first visited in 1975 in an attempt to capture “a world of emotional vibrancy and intensity: raw, disjointed, sometimes beautiful, often tragic.” View his and others’ evocative images at lightbox.time.com.

NOW ON TIME.COM

Which fresh foods are at their best right now? Our health team provides a guide to the ultimate in-season snacks as part of a new recurring series. Here, a preview of what’s available at time.com/health.

PARSNIP

This sweet, low-calorie root veggie looks like a yellowish carrot and makes delicious fries

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

The once maligned, nutrient-rich veggies are sweeter now than in the summer

KOHLRABI

Rich in vitamin C, this “cabbage turnip” (in German) is a great raw snack: juicy, crunchy, sweet

MUSTARD GREENS

The peppery, cholesterol-lowering plant is sweeter when nipped by frost

Contact us at editors@time.com.

This appears in the January 26, 2015 issue of TIME.

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