The Main(e) Problem

August 02, 2012

Times Argus

Imagine a world where the difference between paying $9,000 or $3,000 for a particular plan depends solely on age. Or a place where you purchase what seems like an affordable health plan only to be denied coverage until you have paid almost $24,000 in medical fees and $1,000 on medications out of your own pocket. Unfortunately, this is the reality faced by the people of Maine — this is the same system that Sen. Brock hopes to emulate in Vermont.

Maine is in a race to the bottom that has already decreased the quality of care by eroding the essential consumer protections that previously kept insurance companies in check. The state’s approach to “fairness” involves allowing companies to charge higher premium rates based on age and geographic location, discriminating against an already underinsured older and more rural population.

Maine’s reform includes an effort to draw in younger purchasers by offering seemingly attractive low-premium, high-deductible plans. This approach has individuals paying thousands on medical fees and prescriptions before care is ever covered by their insurance provider — they are essentially paying to be uninsured.

Proponents may twist statistics and claim a decrease in premiums (for a select few), but this achievement also comes at the cost of eliminating maternity care. And, going to the doctor for basic care is now even less affordable for Maine’s average citizens.

Following in Maine’s footsteps would spell disaster for the health of Vermonters and would sacrifice essential care in favor of corporate bottom lines. Vermonters have stated loud and clear that we want fair and affordable health care for all. It is important that we as a state stay on this path toward progress and not allow insurers to get between us and our doctors.

Alison Stokes
South Royalton