To the Editor:
Recently we have been caring for a man with a history of coronary artery bypass grafting and Type 2 diabetes. About two years ago he lost his job and his health insurance and couldn’t afford to see his doctor. He soon ran out of insulin and went without it for nearly a year. Slowly, his condition worsened, complications developed, and he was forced to go to the emergency room where his blood sugar was found to be over 600. He was referred to the Bennington Free Clinic and we were able to give him many of his previous medications.
By this time he had found a new job, but it did not offer insurance. He had just enough income that he did not qualify for Medicaid. He was not old enough to have Medicare coverage. He applied for insurance through Vermont Health Connect, but the premiums and the deductible were too high. He tried to continue to work, but this became impossible because of severe leg pain caused by poor circulation and nerve damage from diabetes. Eventually, he had to leave his job and, with no income, he became eligible for Medicaid, but now there is no income for other expenses such as food and housing. He is applying for Social Security Disability, but in spite of many medical problems, he has been turned down and has started the appeal process which will take many months.
This happened right here in Bennington, but in fact he is one of nearly 30 million Americans without health insurance. Not only are there the uninsured and about 70 million others who are underinsured, but the system as a whole is chaotic and inefficient and designed to put your health care dollars into the pockets of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Needed is a single payer that would insure everyone — Improved Medicare for All.
G. Richard Dundas, M.D.,
The writer is the founding medical director of the Bennington Free Clinic.