System doesn't make sense

April 20, 2015

Rutland Herald: This is the story of my experience with Vermont Health Connect. I retired in the beginning of 2014. At that time our family was covered under my husband’s policy through his employer. My husband died in March of that year, and the coverage ended.

I had the option of being covered as a retiree, but that was prohibitively expensive on my limited income — a pension and Social Security. I contacted a navigator with VHC, who guided me through the process. I was only able to afford the lowest-cost coverage, the bronze plan, which has a very high deductible but does provide preventive care. Basically, I took a gamble that I would stay healthy.

Because of the inefficiency of the VHC system, I was lost in the system for the next eight months, finally getting my coverage in February 2015. I’m not sure what would have happened should I have become ill in those months. Now I will have to remain illness-free for the next year, at which time I will be eligible for Medicare or run the risk of depleting my savings.

This system does not make any sense. We should not have to take a gamble about whether we think we will stay healthy/not get injured. We need to move beyond the Affordable Care Act as we have already committed to through Act 48. We need health care as a right, not as a commodity.

That is why I will be joining thousands of others at the State House on May 1. The time is now to do what is right for our communities.

LAURA WOLFE