Private Insurance No Solution

January 30, 2014

By: Walter Carpenter, Montpelier

I would like to respond to the letter “Many questions on single payer” by Ms. Kerry O’Hara in the Jan. 24 edition of the Rutland Herald. There are some things in her letter which are not exactly as benign or rosy as Ms. O’Hara depicts. I wanted to clarify at least one of these.

This is the employee benefit programs which Ms. O’Hara managed as a former human resources director. Ms. O’Hara wrote that “if the insurance company that we contracted did not live up to our standards of service or increased its premiums to an unacceptable level, I had the option to hire another company to replace them. With a single-payer system, what will be the option?”

I worked at a Vermont company where this happened. When our parent company changed insurers for the reasons Ms. O’Hara cites, they picked an out-of-state insurer — the low bidder. Our deductibles shot up. Naturally, us employees were never consulted. Take it or leave it.

Around this time I was struck with a life-threatening illness. Our new insurer seemed to lack “networked” providers in Vermont. All my medical providers were pushed out-of-network in one swipe. I live five miles from a hospital; I could not utilize it unless I wanted to pay the uninsured rates — substantially higher than insured rates. The closest hospital I could use with the insurance was in New Hampshire.

The problems encountered in this switch almost killed me. The new insurer also proved excessively prolific in denying our claims. I have heard many worse stories from Vermonters caught in similar situations.

With single-payer all this would have been avoided. No “network” problems, no premium/deductible increases, claim denials, just the priceless benefit of health care when I needed it without worry