Private Insurance No Solution

May 29, 2012

Rutland Herald

The Rutland Herald recently reported that Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock is preparing “a free market” alternative to Gov. Shumlin’s single-payer health care proposal. Brock offers the usual Republican prescription about the need for less government involvement and more free market forces. He reverts to the illogic that Vermont “needs to recruit lots of new insurance companies to come to Vermont so consumers have more plans to choose from.” And he describes his team of advisers as “people from more than 50 miles away.”

We have long known that more private insurance companies and so-called “free market competition” do not lead to cost containment or health care for all. Might some of Brock’s advisers come from as far away as, say, Texas, which has a huge number of health insurance companies and, still, the highest percentage of uninsured people, 26.1 percent as of 2010?

Moreover, one of Brock’s outside sources offers the old fallacy that the private health insurance industry is “pro-patient,” offering patients “options and choice,” as opposed to a single-payer system in which “politicians will play doctor.” This ignores the reality of today’s private health insurance industry in which corporate bureaucrats play doctor by deciding whether or not to pay for necessary health care.

Regarding “options and choice,” single-payer health care provides free choice of physicians and hospitals and a system in which health care is not a commodity for which one must “go shopping.” Rather, it provides health care as a public good with a single, comprehensive plan that covers everyone’s necessary health care needs, regardless of pre-existing conditions, employment status, or financial circumstances. I don’t mind “shopping” for a car or a pair of shoes. But I don’t want to have to “shop” for health care, any more than I would want to “shop” for fire and police protection.

FRANK NICOSIA

Middlebury
Article published May 29, 2012