Editor’s note: This commentary is by Ellen Oxfeld, a member of the board of the advocacy group Vermont Health Care for All. She lives in Middlebury.

“What if there was a prolonged illness in the family? Should I be pacified by the fact that I only have to come up with $15,000 out of my own pocket to pay for it, before insurance contributes (on top of the $9,000 I’m paying in premiums)?”

This quote is included in a recently released report from the Vermont Health Care Advocate’s Office aptly entitled, “Health Care Doesn’t Work if You Can’t Afford It.” The report echoes similar national findings that with rising out of pockets, people are avoiding trips to the doctor, especially to their primary care providers.

Shouldn’t our legislators and policymakers take notice when Vermonters cannot afford their health care? They should, yet the focus this session seems to be on propping up OneCare Vermont, a large, for-profit entity (an accountable care organization) whose ostensible purpose is to coordinate care and control costs. Chances are that the vast majority of Vermonters struggling with out-of-pocket costs, and potentially delaying needed care, have never heard of OneCare. continue reading