Online readers are able to respond immediately to Star-Bulletin stories through our Web forum, which can be accessed at the end of stories, editorials and columns at starbulletin.com. Below is a selection of forum comments that appeared last week. Most forum contributors use pseudonyms; their "names" have been omitted here.
"HMSA loses $16.6 million," Star-Bulletin, Aug. 19: HMSA loses money, and the premiums undoubtedly will have to go up. In their model, they have very little control over the hospitals and doctors. In the Kaiser model, there's a lot more integration between the insurance and medical delivery segments.
Don't blame the doctors and hospitals, you should be blaming the people who don't pay their medical bills. The people who pay their medical bills are subsidizing the non-payers.
HMSA has the lowest administrative costs of any health plan in the U.S. - about 7 percent. That means HMSA pays 93 percent of every $1 it receives to (a) doctors, (b) drug companies, (c) hospitals, and (d) other care providers. Since HMSA is a nonprofit, it does not need to charge a margin to provide a return to shareholders and passes all of the savings along to its members. And lastly, HMSA pays (a)-(d) more money per service provided than any other health plan in Hawaii.
"Isle obesity fight focuses on youth," Star-Bulletin, Aug. 20: Physical/nutritional education needs to start at grade K. If its not a priority at school why would it be a priority outside of school? Middle school students should have some sort of competitive sports. There is so much money mispent/appropriated in the DOE. Maybe we should look at all the obese lawmakers and start with them. You would be amazed as to what you would find. Come on lawmakers ... wake up!!
Hey kiddies, stop sucking down all those sodas! Put down the bag of chips, turn off the TV and run for a few miles ... or steps, whichever comes first before you collapse. Parents, throw the video games out the window and start cooking healthy meals for your family! White rice and ketchup are not vegetables!
Layer an extreme "fat" tax on junk foods like soda, chips, candy, etc., to reduce purchases of unhealthy food. Remove taxes from healthy foods like organic veggies. Giving tax breaks and reducing medical insurance premiums for fit people might help too. You can't force people to live healthy lifestyles, but you can make it more difficult to buy their poison.
"Libraries plot ways to manage slimmed budget," Star-Bulletin, Aug. 20: While you have to deal with the budget that is dealt, decision makers should measure the value of library service before they cut. Library experts across the U.S and Canada will tell you that public libraries are the busiest and most needed by families during economic downturns. Public libraries are an equalizing force in society and provide many support services for families that are struggling to make ends meet. In terms of staff, not hiring someone means that their incomes will not be there to support the local economy and will further encourage a climate of super careful consumers that will compound the problems of a downturn. Library funding may be reduced, but the fact is library use will climb significantly without the staff to meet the publics need.
"BOE sets up new school calendar," Star-Bulletin, Aug. 22: The Department of Education still doesn't get it. Starting on July 30 means stifling classroom conditions through the month of August. Oh, that's right, the DOE bureaucrats have air-conditioned offices, so they don't understand what the problem might be.
Forget summer school, and change the calendar to an all-year-round or 3 semester calendar that will keep the students on top of their studies. Summer school is generally for credit recovery or for incoming 9th graders to take a P.E. class so that in their regular school year they can take an elective.