This commentary is by John Steen of South Burlington, who, before he retired, was a teacher of philosophy, had a 20-year career in health planning, health regulation and public health, was a professor of health policy, and is immediate past president of the American Health Planning Association.

I am responding to a commentary in Digger Oct. 21, one that I feel the need to address out of my commitments as an educator and from knowledge I’ve acquired in more than a half-century of work in health policy, including community health planning, state health regulation and public health.

I acquired a license as a health insurance agent in New Jersey in 1992 in order to better understand insurance from a consumer/patient perspective.

Medicare Advantage plans are private insurance plans that replace traditional Medicare coverage. Medicare coverage includes virtually all physicians and hospitals in the U.S., but Medicare Advantage offers only restricted provider panels.

A consumer’s primary care physician may be in that panel, but the consumer may develop problems that are best handled by physicians and facilities that are out of network, with the result that the consumer will be hit with hefty fees.

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