Health care affordability

April 01, 2019

VTDigger
By Barb Wilson

Editor's note: This commentary is by Barb Wilson, of Shoreham, who ran for the Addison-Rutland 1 House Representative seat in 2018, the first time anyone ran as a Democrat in many years. She garnered 42% of the vote.

At the March 18 Addison County Legislative Breakfast in Middlebury, I had the opportunity to ask Gov. Phil Scott how he was going to address the health care access crisis underway in Vermont. This question arose after I listened to the governor respond to a question the previous Friday evening (March 15) on the "Vermont This Week" special question and answer edition. In response to a question from Allen Quittner asking why he wasn’t pushing for universal primary health care, the governor responded that “We are doing a pretty good job in Vermont. Ninety-seven percent of Vermonters are covered by some sort of health care at this point in time.” And then he proceed to say: “We are moving forward with the all payer model,” which he stated is just a “different payment model.”

While addressing the governor, I quoted the 2018 Vermont Health Insurance Survey results, which were recently published by the Vermont Department of Health, stating that the number of Vermonters who are underinsured has gone up yet again. According to the report, 36% of Vermonters under age 65 are underinsured; their “medical expenses are more than what their income could bear” and they “delay care at higher rates than those with adequate insurance (2018 Vermont Household Health Insurance Survey: p. 23 and p. 30).

I also reported that this was the exact same message that I heard running for Addison-Rutland 1 representative as I knocked on hundreds of doors. The cost of health care was by far the number one concern. For those with insurance, they were unable to afford to use it due to the high premiums, deductibles and co-pays. For others, they were faced with making the risky decision of whether or not to purchase insurance or instead using what they would have paid on premiums to cover their family’s annual health care expenses. ....continue reading