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John Bosworth has every right to defend the Japanese social insurance system in his Sept. 17 letter, “Universal support for social net,” but he presents some very misleading “facts” about the U.S. health care situation.

First, even the worst-case estimates of the number of uninsured Americans — about 45 million — do not total the 20 percent of the U.S. population that Bosworth claims “does not have adequate health insurance.” And that figure includes illegal immigrants, people who are without insurance only temporarily, and people who choose to go without health coverage. In his health care speech to Congress, President Barack Obama put the number of Americans who can get coverage at 30 million, which is roughly 10 percent of the population. That means 90 percent of Americans either have insurance, or can get it but choose not to.

Second, Americans do not live “considerably” shorter lives than people in some other countries; there’s a difference of just a few years. Bosworth fails to account for accidents and homicides — separate social ills that have nothing to do with health insurance. Among people who die of natural causes, Americans outlive everyone in the Western world and have significantly higher cancer-survival rates.

There’s no doubt that America’s health care system needs improvements, but its problems are not nearly as bad as often presented. The problems certainly do not justify a government takeover of the entire ball of wax.

jennifer kim