A lot of people seem to have a suggestion when it comes to health care these days.
Some say "leave it alone." Some support drastic reform. Others are confused and lack confidence in those who ultimately will have the final say.
Old Lycoming Township resident Glenn Lynn is one man whose opinion is backed by experience - mainly because he is very familiar with the health care system and recently spent months hospitalized with life-threatening medical issues.
BIRCH PHILLIPS JR.
Lynn said he has been told his survival was a "medical miracle" and it left him believing that no matter how much his doctors were paid, it isn't "close to what they are worth."
"Our lives are in the hands of doctors and nurses," he said. "There is no way I think their wages should be reduced."
Lynn worked for 32 years for the same employer and described his coverage as excellent. A year ago, his insurance provider decided it was too costly to continue covering retirees and farmed retiree coverage out to another firm that now also finds it too expensive and will soon drop its coverage.
Lynn expects to find supplemental coverage, but doubts it will be "as complete as before."
Birch Phillips Jr., of Phillips Supply House Inc. in the Hepburn Plaza, is an employer who - like Lynn's former employer - sees value in good coverage for employees.
Phillips still is involved on the financial end of the business his family has owned since 1893. His son now serves as president.
The senior Phillips was asked recently for his take on health insurance, which the company has long provided at no cost to its employees and plans to continue providing.
He said there are good business reasons for companies to provide insurance.
"Somebody's got to pay for it," he said. "If I pay for it, it's tax deductible."
In addition, he said most of the employees are highly skilled and trained professionals who have been with them more than 15 years.
It's common sense to want employees healthy because it costs the company money when they are off sick and a company like theirs that prides itself on customer service needs its technicians in good health and available to provide the kind of prompt service that keeps customers loyal.
Health care is the largest expense the company has, "not counting the cost of goods," he said, but is worth the cost.
Phillips, 76, is not convinced there is an urgent need for sweeping reform.
"I think what they're trying to do is fix something that isn't necessarily broken," he said.
According to the veteran businessman, a major cause of the high cost of health care is high demand coupled with about 58 percent of all payments for health care coming from Medicare and Medicaid.
The cost will only get bigger as the population ages, Phillips added, suggesting the government could ease the situation by making all people 35 years or younger not eligible for Medicare until age 70 and encouraging everyone to adjust their lifestyles and get insurance.
"They made this mess themselves," he said. "They should have known what was going to happen when they put this together."
He also said the government could lower costs by getting people to buy insurance when they are young and healthy and prone to avoiding doctors and health insurance.
By law, he said, people could be made to get health insurance just like they are required to register their vehicles and have car insurance.
But no matter what government decides to do, he recommends health coverage be left in the hands of private companies because "the government is just incredibly inept" when dealing which such issues,
The owner of a smaller downtown business had another take on the issue.
Darlene Hinkelman, owner of the Coffee and Tea Room on Pine Street, suggested health care reform start at the top of the food chain by stripping the elected officials of their expensive health care perks to provide the lawmakers with more insight into "what is affordable" for average people.
She also suggested that if politicians lost benefits, it might free up some money for the millions unable to afford health insurance across the nation.
"Unless health care is free," she added, "for a lot of people it's not affordable."
Alissa DuBois of Otto's Books on West Fourth Street said she doesn't understand why the health care system continues to waste money on massive duplication of paperwork and suggested everyone could be issued a card that health care providers could use to access what they need to know about patients, eliminating most paperwork and some of the cost of health care.
Everyone should have coverage, she said, and "pay according to what they can afford ... Let's just be up front and straight about it and find a way."
One common thread, seen by many of those surveyed for these stories, is the belief that the congressmen and senators on Capital Hill are light years removed from people such as themselves.
How, some asked, does a long entrenched legislator relate to ordinary people with limited financial options?
The health care debate is a complicated issue and most people have no idea how to solve it.
Hurley Poust, 58, who sat waiting one hot afternoon outside Susquehanna Health's community clinic in the Hepburn Plaza waiting for a STEP van to transport him home to Lock Haven, did not have a national health insurance plan on his list of concerns.
He said he didn't know how it would help the clinic in which he had just had an appointment but he did know "they need a lot more doctors."
Poust was correct about the need for more doctors, especially in rural areas. It's a nationwide need for more doctors - so much so that Sen. Arlen Specter referred to it more than once during his recent town meeting in Lewisburg while most in his audience seemed preoccupied with whether a national plan would be socialistic or the possibility the government will violate their Constitutional rights and force them to stop smoking and lose weight.