Dealing with primary care costs

March 31, 2015

St Albans Messenger: Access to basic primary health care is something that many people don’t have (almost 1/3 of Vermonters have no insurance or are underinsured). Many policies have very large deductibles. This means that people must pay the full cost of an office visit to treat a common infection or other simple problem. Many who can’t afford these outof-pocket costs put off that visit to the doctor, and their problem is left untreated and can escalate into a much more serious condition. Then a health crisis sends them to the emergency room or mandates a hospital stay, which all of the rest of us end up paying for through the cost shift of higher premiums.

There are two bills (S.88, H.207) that would start to address the huge problem of runaway health care costs by providing primary basic care for all Vermonters. Prevention and early treatment means fewer expensive hospitalizations and fewer crisis emergency room visits which are paid for by all of us anyway!

Primary care costs less than 6% of our total health costs. As I understand it, it could be financed for the equivalent of about a 1.4% payroll tax. Before everyone keels over at the thought of a new tax, consider this: It would lower health care premiums because insurers would not be able, by law, to charge for services they do not provide. If insurers no longer provide basic primary health care, it is estimated that H.207/S.88 would lower insurance premiums by as much as 10%.

I wholeheartedly support this idea. It would stabilize our economic environment, would be relatively inexpensive, would improve the overall health of our population, and would reduce private insurer premiums. We MUST do something, and soon. Why not this? It is time to be creative: access to basic health care for everyone is the necessary foundation for building a strong economy in Vermont. Please contact your representatives and ask them to take action on this important and common-sense bill!

Carolyn Bronz, Bakersfield