Brattleboro Reformer

I am writing to oppose the proposed merger of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont with the Michigan Blues.

Merger is a polite word for it. Takeover is the more appropriate word and our state regulators seem to be tripping over themselves to push this through as fast as possible. It seems a cardinal rule in our state government that whatever BCBS of Vermont wants it gets at the snap of the fingers, no matter who ultimately pays the bill for it. Vermont ratepayers and taxpayers will be the ones stuck with the bill for this in more ways than just financial.

To really understand what an out-of-state insurer a thousand miles away from Vermont and its laws — an insurer that already has a dubious record — will do to “save money,” one should experience it firsthand like I was forced to do 17 years ago. I still have PTSD over it. I came within the thin edge of an ace of dying from the odyssey. The insurer was employer-sponsored (paid for by the customers of that employer and by the general public, but that is another story) through my employer back then. The sheer amount of claim denials and prior authorizations they forced me to battle through for every procedure or test was far worse than fighting the life-threatening disease itself. Since they were out of state, and denying claims by either medical directors or algorithms is where the big money is for the insurance company, it was much harder to fight them for everything than it would have been for an in-state insurer. The company knew this very well. I’m sure both parties in this takeover also know this just as well.

To blithely state that this merger will benefit Vermonters by lowering costs, better technology, and so on is to live in a fantasy. I write in the dimming hope that this warning will cause our state regulators, and our state legislators, to examine this proposed takeover with the urgency, and in the depth, that it deserves before they heave us into this disaster so quickly.

Walter Carpenter