Single Payer Will Cut Costs

February 24, 2012

Rutland Herald

Opponents of Vermont’s future single-payer health care system need to look ahead into the realities of health care financing in both Vermont and the nation. The Rutland Herald recently reported “universal opposition from residents” during a packed Feb. 18 forum in Wells that considered the pros and cons of a single-payer system in Vermont. The opponents might consider that Vermont chose single-payer as the best solution for its out-of-control insurance costs.

A wasteful expense for millions of Americans and Vermonters is the billions in profits amassed by private insurers. Single-payer eliminates this. Insurers often deny care, but they do not provide health care. They advertise widely, distribute “misinformation” and uncertainty, lobby, protect their turf and pay fat CEO salaries. (In 2009 retiring CIGNA CEO earned $14.6 million.) Multiple insurers drive up providers’ administrative costs. They all have different forms, rules, denials, and regulations. Wendell Potter, a whistle blower for CIGNA, reported that in 2011, the four biggest insurers (CIGNA, Aetna, United, and WellPoint) earned $11 billion on almost $220 billion revenue.

The 2010 federal health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”), enables private insurers to still control and profit from much of the market. They know that when the Affordable Care Act is fully operative, they can insure many more Americans. Vermont cannot create a single-payer system until 2017, so the private insurers, the unnecessary middlemen, are fighting the Vermont single-payer effort. Also, a computerized single-payer system that covers everyone will identify cost outliers.

MARGARET NEWTON, M.D.

Brattleboro