Peggy Sapphire, Craftsbury

My husband and I have Medicare & Aetna, but Aetna has no preferred provider network in Vermont. We live in VT on a fixed Social Security pension.

Five years ago my husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer. His treatment began with a Barre,VT urologist, and within 2 years we’d incurred such significant debt as a result of the mounting 20% not picked up by Medicare or Aetna, that we were forced to search for my husband’s health care provider at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. DHMC is an Aetna preferred provider.

For the next 3 years and hereafter, we have and will have to travel 4 hours, round-trip, for his bladder cancer treatment, as we have for all our other health care treatment beyond the scope of our primary care providers here in Vermont. That is, continuing urological/oncological evaluation for my husband, including surgery to remove his bladder, ostomy, my annual mammograms, my husband’s bi-lateral knee replacement, my upcoming knee surgery, my husband’s additional orthopedic evaluations,  both of our required ophthalmologist evaluations, neuorological evaluations, CT scans, Ultra-sounds, cystoscopies, cataract surgery.

All of these specialties, though available in Vermont, have become prohibitively expensive for us, despite our having health insurance. Our medical needs require extensive, expensive, frequent and often risky travel, because VT’s  medical providers and facilities are dictated to us, made unavailable to us, by private insurance companies.

It is not the government which gets between us and our doctors, it is the corporate health insurance behemoth which controls our health care choices.