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PHOTO BY BILL FAVH
WE CAN LEARN something of a different world by watching ghost crabs.
Glimpse Into Another World
BY BILL FAVER
Sometimes it is a quite unlikely event which en
ables us to take a look at another perspective to the
life we know on this planet. For some it is a beautiful
. vista from a mountaintop; for oth
ers, a colorful butterfly amid sum
mer brilliance of flowers. Some
folks are awed by a new bird on a
backyard feeder or finding a
snowy owl after a lifetime hike
over rugged lands.
Loren Eisely found extra in
sight while gazing into a snake's
eyes at a spring where he had
kneeled for a drink. He realized
his life at that moment was in
snake's hands and eased back from the water moccasin
in thankfulness it did not strike.
Rachel Carson tells of exploring a South Atlantic
beach one night and being surprised by a host crab:
"He was lying in a pit he had dug just above the
surf, as though watching the sea and waiting.
The blackness of night possessed water, air, and
beach.. .There was no sound but the all-enveloping,
primeval sounds of wind blowing over water and
sand, and of waves crashing on the beach. There
was no other visible life ? -just one small crab near
the sea. "
Miss Carson tells how she was filled with the odd
sensation that she knew the creature in its own world
and that she understood something of its being. For her
the crab became a symbol of life itself, "for the deli
cate, destructible, yet incredibly vital force that some
how holds its place amid the harsh realities of
Those of us along the beach can find ghost crabs al
most any night. Some people chase them, some ob
serve their sideways dash across the sand. In early
mornings, we can watch their tunneling and home re
pair or see them get washed over by a wave to replen
ish their water supply.
Seldom do we take the time to think about their
world. When we do, we can learn to appreciate them
as a vital part of the life of the world around us and a
way to take a glimpse into another world.
HMO Leader Says He's Pulling
For Responsible Health Reform
BY BOB GRECZYN
The jargon invented by health care
policy makers is about to burst upon
the national consciousness with the
force of the Midwest floods and the
ubiquity of Jurassic Park: managed
competition, single-payer, cost-shift
ing, community rating, gate-keepers,
These terms may not become
household words, but they will pro
liferate in news articles and broad
casts now that President Clinton has
announced his long-awaited health
care reform plan.
As chief executive officer of a
large health maintenance organiza
tion (HMO), I'm pulling for respon
? We need to provide health care
for the 37 million Americans and
nearly 1 million North Carolinians
who are uninsured or underinsured.
? As President Clinton has sug
gested, we must promote preventive
health care ? care for people before
they get sick.
? And the president was on target
when he said we must curb health
care spending, which stands at nearly
14 percent of our gross national
The fact is, most North Car
olinians are pessimistic that reform
will make health care better or
cheaper. In a statewide scientific sur
vey commissioned this past June by
our HMO, 40 percent of the 600
North Carolina adults polled said
tthey believed health care reform
would make care more expensive,
while the quality would be the same
or worse. Another 22 percent said
there will be no real change in the
quality or cost of health care.
I hope they're wrong, and 1 be
lieve they are. The debate over
health care reform has already forced
those of us in the health care industry
to look hard at the way we do busi
ness. The competition between
health care insurers to begin health
care reform has resulted in lower
health insurance premium increases
due to moderating costs, increased
pressure to show client data proving
our worth and even more emphasis
on quality health care and service for
This year, for example, our HMO
will on average increase premiums
from about 6 to 8 percent, because
physicians, hospitals and other health
care providers down the line are
working with us to help keep costs
down. Other less efficient health
plans and insurers premiums are in
creasing at much higher rates.
Consumers are noticing. In last
year's poll, 65 percent said high cost
was health care's biggest problem.
This year, the share of respondents
that cited cost as the biggest problem
dropped to 56 percent ? a 9-percent
age-point drop. At the same time,
those who said lack of health insur
ance coverage was the greatest prob
lem increased from 16 percent last
year to 23 percent today.
So managed competition was al
ready beginning to work, even be
fore the unveiling of President
Clinton's plan. It's not managed
competition exactly as the policy
makers describe. It's more like man
aged care with competition.
Managing care means steps like:
? making sure each member se
lects a primary care physician to help
manage their health care needs.
? providing members with quali
ty, appropriate care quickly but elim
inating unnecessary care.
? emphasizing preventive care
and lifestyle choices to keep mem
bers as healthy as possible.
? working to reduce bureaucratic
hassles and eliminate unnecessary
paperwork so physicians can provide
care and the people can concentrate
on getting or staying well.
Managing care is one side of the
equation. Competition is the other. In
expanding access and controlling
costs, we need more competition, not
less. That certainly means that many
health insurers who are not efficient
will not survive in the future. HMOs
that aren't responsive or who are not
able to satisfy people's needs won't
Health insurance companies,
HMOs, hospitals and doctors com
peting more than ever on price and
quality will serve consumers well.
That's why it was good to hear
President Clinton announce his res
ervations about the single-payer
health care system. Put aside the
question of who pays the bill. Does
anyone really believe that the gov
ernment, which gave us Medicare
and Medicaid, can maintain the qua
lity of health care we enjoy? Gov
ernment programs almost always
seek the lowest common denomina
tor. Is mediocrity and politics in our
health care what we want?
North Carolinians don't think so.
Our June poll of North Carolina
adults found that only about one
third of the respondents ? 35 per
cent ? said they prefer a single-payer
system run by the government. Just
over half ? 51 percent ? said they
preferred managed competition, in
which employers and individuals
would band together in health al
liances and negotiate the best health
care plans with insurers.
There is still a need to develop a
broader consensus on the direction
of health care reform, and that hope
fully will come from the president,
working with Democrats and Repub
licans. In the meantime, Americans
should take some degree of comfort
that managed care, with competition,
is already beginning to work.
Bob Greczyn is CEO of Carolina
Physicians' Health Plan Inc., a
health maintenance organization
based in Morrisville.
Complete Primary Care
Lee Langston, MD ? Jon Langston, PAC ? Roger F. Nelson, MD
We have 2 locations for your convenience
341 Whiteville Rd.CHwy. 130 W) Seaside Plaza (Jet. Hwy. 179 & 904)
754-8731 579-8512 ^
Call for appointment-Vacationers & Walk-ins Welcome. ?
Where Do All The Letters Go?
Where do all the letters go? And
the packages and post cards and
The U.S. Postal Service remains a
mystery to me, like a veiled maiden
who teases, flirts and promises, but
doesn't deliver the goods. Just this
past week at home and work I've
had three encounters with the disap
pearing mail division.
Here at the office we recently
mailed letters to candidates for mu
nicipal office all across the county,
using the addresses they had provid
ed the Brunswick County Board of
However, some of the addresses
they gave were apparently more in
tended to show they qualified as dis
trict residents than for communica
tion purposes. Not everybody who
has a post office box, or receives
mail at the office instead of their
home told the elections board, so
some of the letters have been coming
back stamped with "No forwarding
address," "address unknown," etc.
We expected some of this; that's one
of the reasons we mail in September
when the profiles don't run until late
What I didn't expect was to still
be getting returned letters three
weeks after mailing them out. The
first was back in three days, which
seemed about right. (Something like
this: Shallotte to Fayetteville to
Brunswick County to Fayetteville
back to Shallotte.) Another took
eight days to come back, and a third,
Usher T ** ^ wi
I fear they're still going to be
trickling in AFTER the election,
leaving some hopefuls out there
thinking the Beacon didn't want to
include them in its candidate cover
age, which wasn't the case at all.
My closest contact with the postal
service, our mail earner, seems to do
a good job. The days he is on duty
we get few letters that don't belong
to us, the mail arrives within a rea
sonable time frame of several hours,
and he is cheerful, courteous and
So where do all these problems
I hardly think it was his fault that
the September issue of one of my fa
vorite magazines arrived Wednesday,
two days ahead of the October issue.
Did everybody in the Shallotte area
get their "Guideposts" late in
September or was it just us?
Were the September issues delib
erately set aside somewhere ? in
New York, Greensboro, Peter's
Never-Never Land waiting for a de
livery day when there wasn't a lot of
Better yet, had they been stuffed
into a dark corner and left to gather
dust, only to be discovered by an
embarrassed post office employee
who was planning to put the October
issues in that same hole?
Maybe they were in perpetual
transit this past month, flying from
New York to Chicago to Greensboro,
then down to Florida on vacation.
Maybe it was a simple slip-up.
Perhaps my copy simply went to
someone else here in town, who per
haps took time to read it before
putting it back in the mailbox. If so,
that's okay. (After all, I was tempted
to do that the day last week when a
Brierwood resident's "Prevention"
magazine ended up in my box.)
Or maybe the September issue
landed in the mailbox of someone
who had left for a month-long cruise
and just returned home.
Maybe. Perhaps. But there is an
other theory. According to one hu
morist writing in "Reader's Digest,"
the U.S. Postal Service really did
need that last rate increase. Why?
Do you have a postal service hor
ror story? Please share it. Ditto if
you have a story of exceptionally
fine service frorrwthe postal service.
(Write me at P.O. Box 2558, Shal
lotte, N.C. 28459, or if you're EX
TREMELY paranoid, it's okay to
FAX it to 754-5407)
I'll be looking forward to hearing
from you. I'm considering a book,
but in any case your responses
should make one heck of a follow-up
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Rabies Clinic Brings Out The Best
To the editor:
In this day of continuing media
coverage of crime and violence, it
was a good experience to be in the
happy company of some 200-plus
cats, dogs and human owners. 1
speak of the rabies clinic held at the
Companion Animal Hospital (though
I suspect that the same atmosphere
was discovered at the other loca
Despite the large numbers of
"clients" and the harried, hard
pressed staff and the need to stand
and wait for two or more hours, no
one complained! In fact, people were
exchanging pleasantries, strangers
became acquaintances for the dura
tion, even the animals maintained a
certain acceptance of each other.
To say the least, I was impressed.
I came home with renewed vigor
and intensified belief in the good
ness of humankind ? Brunswick
County variety especially. Thanks
are due to all those whose efforts
made this event possible, but espe
cially to those folks who were there
doing their job with happy faces.
Why No Ryder Cup?
To the editor:
I believe most everyone will
agree that the economic growth in
this area is directly due to a total
love and commitment to the game of
golf. The investment in golf courses
in this area totals millions of dollars.
I am talking as a resident of
Brunswick County, but I believe the
reason for much of the growth in
New Hanover County is the result of
golf. What I am trying to say is that
golf is as important as football or car
racing or fishing.
After making the above state
ment, 1 believe it is totally unfor
giveable that Atlantic Cable did not
find a way to show the Ryder Cup
matches in this area. The viewers in
New Hanover County have access to
more than one NBC outlets, and that
is the reason people in Wilmington
did not complain when channel 6
did not show the golf.
I feel that the equipment is in
place, or should be in place as far as
the local cable company is con
cerned. Ethically, it would have been
a great gesture on their part to pro
vide coverage on a spare channel
and advertise it locally.
Two years from now, the Ryder
Cup matches will be played at Oak
Hill East in Rochester, N.Y. Let's
hope, if we are alive, we will be able
to see the matches in Brunswick
r* GALLERY O
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