Single-payer critic's math is off

July 31, 2014

Burlington Free Press

The letter "Red Flag Raised over Health Costs" (Letter to the editor, June 17) by Mr. William French left some red flags in its wake concerning the author's understanding of single-payer.

For example, Mr. French states that "according to the 2013 United States Census Bureau estimate, there are 626,630 people living in our fine state — which means about 40,731 of our residents did not have health insurance coverage in 2012."

True enough. In single-payer nations, however, the number of uninsured is zero.

Mr. French projects that "The total cost of the plan (single-payer) is nearly $5.9 billion." I do not know where Mr. French got this figure, but he divides this $5.9 billion of his by the 40,731 uninsured for a total "of about $145,000 per uninsured person."

First, It should be noted that the total tab for health care spending in pre-Affordable Care Act Vermont was already topping $5 billion — this with those 40,731 still uninsured. If Mr. French's $5.9 billion were the case, and I am not suggesting it is, the overwhelming difference here is that the number of uninsured Vermonters would be zero.

Second, does Mr. French think that the single-payer plan is only for those 40,731 uninsured Vermonters? If so, he is grossly mistaken. The single-payer plan is to insure all Vermonters in an equitable manner, guaranteeing access to health care with no 40,731 Vermont residents left uninsured or underinsured and left to the mercy of medical expenses like I once was.

WALTER CARPENTER
Montpelier