UNIVERSAL PRIMARY CARE IS A PRACTICAL FIRST STEP BECAUSE:
1. Universal publicly financed primary care would reduce the need for expensive hospitalizations and emergency room visits by preventing disease and treating conditions earlier.
2. It would lower health care premiums for all! (Vermont law does not allow premium rates to reflect services private insurers do not pay for).
3. Primary care could be financed for relatively little. A state 2016 study estimated it would cost under $175 million per year, and this would include both substance abuse and out patient mental health. That is not much more than the cost of a proposed new hospital building at Fletcher Allen.
4. Starting with universal primary care will keep us on the road to health care as a public good set out in Act 48.
5. If we don’t invest in primary care, it won’t be there ten years from now. We will be left with specialists, and this will not only be bad for public health, but also vastly increase costs!
6. Nearly 1/2 of privately insured Vermonters under age 65 are now underinsured (44%). This number continues to rise. Underinsurance means people do not access care when they need it due to financial barriers. Primary care for all with no fees at point of service would help ensure access to care.
7. Of Vermonters who went to the doctor once in the previous 12 months, most (61.6%) did not visit a specialist at all. Primary care is where most of us access care most of the time!
8. Only about 10% of privately insured Vermonters get their insurance through the Exchange. So, even if we bolster the Exchange, this does nothing for almost 90% of privately insured Vermonters, a substantial number of whom are underinsured, and who would typically access the health care system through primary care.