Vermont BCBS vs. National VA system

June 24, 2014

Caledonian Record

To the Editor:

Your editorial, "When Government Runs Health Care" (June 18) should give readers cause to reflect on one of the virtues of changing to a universal health care system for Vermonters by comparing Blue Cross Blue Shield to the Veterans Administration.

Vermont BCBS is by Vermont law, a not-for-profit insurer; that is, it takes money from people and gives it to health care providers without rewarding shareholders. However, for this service its corporate officers and trustees, according to its 2013 documentation filed with the State of Vermont, received $3,049,015 in executive compensation, $278,723 in trustee compensation and $552,842 in other compensation, for a total of $3,880,562. For that money, BCBS processed a total of 2,572,729 claims. These are not individuals, but the claims filed only by the Vermonters covered by BCBS.

A taxpayer funded and publicly run health care system, the VA -- acknowledged despite its present problem to still be the best health care system in the country -- serves about 3.6 million veterans with hundreds of hospitals and clinics and thousands of staff throughout the country. Its previous administrator, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, was paid about $180,000 a year.

Why we should pay 21 times that amount just for clerical work, much less provide a 9.8 percent raise, is a good question.

Chuck Gregory