Your Letters: Health Care, Open Sound New Orleans

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Host Liane Hansen reads listeners' letters about health care and Open Sound New Orleans, a virtual map of the city's sounds.


Time now for your letters. Last week, NPR's Howard Berkes updated his report on Larry Harbour, a small business owner in Nebraska who's been searching for affordable health insurance. Originally, Harbour thought his premiums would cost more than $20,000 a year, until an insurance broker - who heard an earlier Howard Berkes report - told Harbour that 20,000 was way too high and helped him find a cheaper plan.

This prompted a lot of letters from you with your own health insurance stories. Oma Sullivan(ph) of Chatham, New York wrote, 20,000 didn't sound outrageous to me. I recently spent weeks searching for a health insurance plan - either privately or through my husband's single operator business. The rate difference between small and large businesses puts affordable care out of reach for all but larger companies. Health care should not be viewed as a commodity subject to the vagaries of capitalism.

And Barbara Staley(ph) of Seattle wrote, the discussion revolves around a faulty premise: that health care is the same thing as health insurance. It is not. Health care is a basic human right, health insurance is a profit-driven commodity that seeks gain through delaying and denying care. In a rational civil society, health care should be a given. It should not depend on an individual's ability to do savvy comparison shopping for a product that seeks to profit by denying the very service it purports to provide.

In my conversation last week with the creators of Open Sound New Orleans, a virtual map of the city's sounds, I did not tell you who recorded this brass band playing at Super Sunday, an annual parade held by the Mardi Gras Indians.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified People: (unintelligible)

Unidentified Man: What'd you say?

HANSEN: It was Julie Botero(ph). We heard from Alan Blum(ph) of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He wrote, although I appreciated your story on Open Sound New Orleans, I was disappointed that reference wasn't made to the late Tony Schwartz, a pioneer in tape recording people in places in their natural urban habitat. Over 60 years, he recorded more than 30,000 sound portraits of life in New York City.

Tony Schwartz's recordings have been heard numerous times on NPR. Here's one of children playing.

(Soundbite of children playing)

Unidentified Child #1: Who me?

Unidentified Child #2: Yes you.

Unidentified Child #1: That's a lie.

Unidentified Child #2: Then who?

Unidentified Child #1: Ladi(ph).

LADI: Who me?

Unidentified Child #1: Yes you.

LADI: Couldn't be.

Unidentified Child #1: Then who?

LADI: Normi(ph).

NORMI: Who me?

LADI: Yes you.

NORMI: Couldn't be.

LADI: Then who?

HANSEN: Send us your comments. You can write by going to and clicking on Contact Us. Or you can tweet me. My Twitter handle is NPRLianeHansen, L-I-A-N-E H-A-N-S-E-N, all one word. You can also tweet the WEEKEND EDITION editors and producers at NPRWeekend. That, too, is one word.

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