Profits guide insurance firms

January 27, 2014

By: Jason Kelley, West Hartford

In response to Kelly O’Hara’s letter (Jan. 24) commenting on the Herald editorial about recent developments in Vermont’s health care reform (“Getting Ready,” Jan. 21), it’s hard to know how she gained her unbridled admiration for health insurance companies. Health care costs in Vermont exceed the national average; we have the 13th highest per capita health care costs of any state. Insurance companies have shown little or no inclination to be part of efforts to control costs. Nor do they have to; they’re corporations. They are not directly accountable to citizens in the way that legislators and state agencies are. Democracy isn’t part of their game.

A painful example from our neighbors across the Connecticut River tells it all: New Hampshire Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield recently decided unilaterally to stop paying for care at a number of the state’s smaller rural hospitals and the providers who work for them. And there’s nothing the citizens of New Hampshire can do about it; Anthem has balked when legislators and state regulators have asked them to justify this preemptive action. If two or three of New Hampshire’s smaller rural hospitals situated along the Connecticut River fold because of this debacle, a number of Vermonters who routinely receive services at those hospitals will be adversely affected.

Like all the detractors of the governor’s goals of single payer financing, O’Hara’s letter offers no substantive alternative plan other than to sit tight and watch Vermonters’ health care costs continue their unbridled rise.