I was surprised, in the coverage of the passage of Obamacare, that so little was written about how things are done in other countries and how much leverage government-run healthcare has in reducing its costs. You dismiss this leverage in your editorial (“Obamacare: round two,” CJR, January/February), saying it’s not part of Obamacare, but it is part of Medicare. That basic journalistic question—How much does it really cost?—was never adequately answered for US citizens. Let me give you an example. I remember a news story that ran about 20 years ago in the Globe and Mail, about a Canadian woman who gave birth to a baby in a US hospital and received an itemized bill. Canadians like me were aghast at the outrageous overcharging the hospital did. A single maxi pad cost something like $40. We all knew that was insane, and we wondered why US citizens paid those crazy prices. But when I moved to the US and started getting medical bills, I saw that they were never itemized. American consumers have no idea what they’re being charged, in detail, and I think that’s why they accept the price-gouging that is probably the norm. The only reason we saw itemized bills in Canada was that our government-run insurance required them before it would pay. Shouldn’t US journalists insist on that also? Comparing US costs for standard medical procedures to those in Canada, Britain, France, etc—or what the government agrees to pay for the same services in those countries—would be a great idea.
Carrie BuchananUniversity Heights, OH
Depth of field
In his review of Alan Huffman’s book on Tim Hetherington (“Unfinished business,” CJR, January/February), Michael Meyer writes that “nearly half of Huffman’s book is devoted to reconstructing Hetherington’s final days in Libya.” Seems like another attempt to cast in bronze an image of Tim as a “heroic war photographer” by a member of the fraternity of conflict correspondents. It’s a self-referencing circle. The people making films or writing about Tim after his death only see him through the lens of war reporting, which Tim rejected completely. Tim created amazing images and projects on Creole architecture in Sierra Leone, neon-lit gas stations in the Arab Emirates, and post-2004 tsunami devastation and rebirth in Indonesia (among others). Has no one seen that work because they don’t know Tim well enough, or is it ignored because it does not fit the stereotype of the photographer “with a British accent plucked from a Graham Greene novel”?
As much as I hope Tim’s work is disseminated further and his talents exposed to the world, I fear the coming attention will be focused on a retrograde trajectory from the one Tim was pursuing.
Christopher WiseBangkok, Thailand
We neglected to include the credit for our January/February cover image on our Table of Contents page. Here it is now: Adrianna Williams / Corbis.