Opinion: Universal Care System Favored
May 05, 2016
The letter “Vermont must address health insurance conundrum” (Addison Independent, April 11, 2016) was right on. This health insurance conundrum cannot be repeated enough. Our wages can never keep up with the never-ending rise of health care costs, no matter how high we raise the minimum wage. That “Of the roughly 630,000 people living in Vermont, almost 40 percent of them are on some form of public health care,” as the letter said, plainly shows this losing battle.
One of the main reasons for this problem is that our health care system is not a system. It is disparate parts working independently, often against each other, each with their own eligibility requirements, income limits, rules and so on. Whether public or private, none of them function as a cohesive and universal whole for all Vermonters.
There is, however, a proposal that would work through these conundrums to unite at least a segment of our disjointed and dysfunctional health care into a universal whole for all Vermonters. It is in the Statehouse now, working through the legislative and study phases. This proposal is Universal Primary Care (UPC).
The letter said that “‘utopia’ isn’t cheap.” Universal Primary Care is hardly a “utopia.” It is normal in the rest of the democratic world. Its price tag is less than our health care is now and would, for the first time, deliver primary care universally across the state, along with mental health and substance abuse. Prior studies of UPC pegged the costs at only $48 more per year, per Vermonter, and could save so much more by being free at the point of delivery.
UPC would, for the first time, be a complete system for all Vermonters. It would also ease the losing race of wages forever running behind our eternally rising costs of health care.