Finding Joel Belz's "Hard choices ahead" (May 4) was like seeing a ghost for me. Just moments before, a colleague and I had been discussing our own organization's rising insurance premiums. We are facing an annual increase plus an additional penalty due to large claims last year, even though the employee responsible for most of those claims is now deceased. Perhaps we should not assume that some procedures are and will always be priced beyond the reach of the common man. Why aren't market forces driving down prices? Is it because we allow insurance companies to pay for health care rather than cost-conscious consumers? - Paul G. Barnard, Tampa, Fla.
Joel Belz's column on the health care we're persuaded we deserve, and its costs, was right on the mark. The reasons costs are skyrocketing include mind-boggling leaps in technology, doctors' need to protect themselves from lawsuits, and just plain greed. More than one doctor has told me privately they are "getting theirs" while they can. Recently, a specialist quoted me $1,100 for a dental procedure that would take about one hour; he also complained that he wouldn't be able to retire "anytime soon." Outrageous. - G. Robert Greene, Houston, Texas
A large part of the problem is that when saving a person from one crisis, you leave them older and often sicker to face the next expensive problem coming along. I went through a hospitalization (with an amputation) from mid-January to late March, when it would have been much cheaper just to have a funeral. I estimate the total costs to be about $105,000 for everything. - John D. Froelich, Upper Darby, Pa.
So long as any third party-the government or an employer-paid insurance company-pays the bills, those $35,000 medical procedures are "free" to the decision maker. Everybody wants something for nothing and, for a little while, some of us actually get away with it. But sooner or later the piper wants to call the tune. The only solution is a true medical savings account (not to be confused with the self-destructive absurdity passed by Congress a few years back), where the costs and the benefits go to the same person. - Tom Pittman, Spreckels, Calif.
Mr. Belz misses by not mentioning the extermination of over 40 million babies who would be major contributors to society had they survived pregnancy. Many in America wrongly seem to think that genocide will have little or no effect on society. We, collectively, are left to reap the fruits. - Steve Stucky, Colorado Springs, Colo.
As a family physician, I believe that it really needn't cost that much to learn to be a good physician, or produce most of the medicines we use, or treat a patient in a hospital, or even do surgery. The main reason all these things cost so much is because the government regulates them. These regulations, I admit, ensure higher quality care to a limited extent. But the regulations aren't perfect-bad doctors and hospitals still exist. If we abolished these regulations, I predict that a network of independent organizations would arise to certify all aspects of medical care, decreasing the overall cost and allowing informed consumers to choose on the basis of price and quality. - Jeremy Klein, Louisa, Ky.
Andree Seu wrote a wonderful column on the gay-affirming programs taking hold in public schools ("School days," May 4). Isn't it crazy that adults think their role is to help children discover what their sexual desires are so they can follow them? Shouldn't the very first question to ask about our appetites (which have such a hold on us in life) be not, "What do I feel, and how can I gratify that feeling?" but, "Is this desire good? Shall I gratify it or restrain it?" When adults teach children to gratify desires, they are following a recipe for disaster. - Linda Ames Nicolosi, Encino, Calif.
There is no more scurrilous, media-fueled lie extant than the one that claims homosexuality is genetic. This vile canard is spitting in God's face. - Jim Kohlmann, Apopka, Fla.
Life and lucre
Despite some serious problems, including death, with abortion-inducing RU-486 in other nations and during clinical trials in this country, the FDA approved the use of RU-486 in the United States in September 2000; neither Congress nor President Clinton stepped in. Now more health problems, including death, have been attributed to one of the drugs in these pills ("Killer pills?" May 4). Perhaps trial lawyers will step in on behalf of the affected women and their families, and press the claim that RU-486 is a harmful product. Will our legal system, motivated by dollars, be the downfall of RU-486 when moral arguments seem to have failed? - Michael Cook, Shellsburg, Iowa
Brilliant or rigid?
I have enjoyed watching the aesthetic progression of WORLD over the past several years as you update its look and make it more reader-friendly. The latest changes improve the overall visual aspect of the magazine yet again ("Same WORLD, new look" April 27). David Freeland is to be applauded for his brilliant layouts, bold use of color, and attention to detail and style. - Elizabeth Cole, Bristol, Va.
WORLD is a first-class publication that is both intelligent and easily read. However, with the new design, the magazine has lost some of its warmth. The new font and greater use of boxes makes the presentation more rigid and sterile. - Michael S. Burrier, Thurmont, Md.
I just wanted you to know how much we enjoy reading your magazine. We do not have a subscription yet, but our good friends keep sending them to us. It is one of our few windows on the world from halfway around the world. I have been glad to find that our children also read it, which is often a good stimulus for family conversation on current issues. We are so glad that this influence comes from a Christian perspective. - Clay Quarterman, Odessa, Ukraine
Reading your issue addressing the persecution of Christians, my heart was saddened as I recognized something I have often felt. This morning I found a letter from someone I knew well. He stated that he was "concerned" about how I approached the Bible because he was "more and more open than you appear to be to new or different ideas." As a Christian, I feel I have been accepting of people who are not open to my ideas, yet I am criticized for not being "open." My voice has been struggling to emerge and perhaps your magazine is the push I have needed. - Suzanne Sniffen, Grovetown, Ga.
Heretic too mild
I just finished the special issue on media spin ("Osama bin Ashcroft?" April 27). I loved it, but one point of disagreement: Describing Anglican John Spong as heretical was far too generous. Heretical teaching gets some things wrong. Spong, however, is an apostate, for he denies almost all of the cardinal orthodox truths of biblical Christianity, such as the virgin birth, necessity of the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the necessity of regeneration. - Jeff Howell, Jersey Shore, Pa.
Two items in your April 20 issue were especially timely. "Dobson's choice" exposes the duplicity of the TNIV publishers, which in my opinion rightly will bring a torrent of opposition to this new version. "Camping out" properly exposes the sad spectacle of a man who has contributed much to Christ's kingdom only to miss the mark badly on the church. We have appreciated the ministry of Family Radio for many years, but can no longer support misguided, unbiblical views on the church. - W. Lee Troup, Strasburg, Pa.
Glorify and enjoy
I thought that Russell Board's "Passing beauty" (April 27) was excellent. I never thought that griping about the brevity of life was finding fault with God's creation and His blessings. But now that I think about it, God made the things of life abrupt and shortened so that we would learn to enjoy and savor them more. The withering of the different aspects of life are meant so that we may enjoy them, even with the knowledge that they will only be here for a season. - Evan Thorpe, 14, Walworth, N.Y.