Times Argus

Pointing out in his commentary “Health care costs” (Oct. 1) that Vermonters spent “an astonishing $7.95 billion on health care in 2020 — over $12,600 per person living in our state,” Mr. Andrew Garland proposes Vermonters should shop around to different hospitals and medical practices as a strategy to help lower these costs.

Mr. Garland’s proposal essentially puts the onus for lowering these scandalous costs onto the patient, thus absolving the current status quo (and his company) of responsibility for them.

Mr. Garland is vice president of client relations and external affairs at BlueCross and BlueShield of Vermont. Presumably, he has the insider information, the sway as a CEO, and the time to “shop around.” We patients do not have these things; we are not compensated for our time either, time wasted merely in contending with the needless complexity of our medical billing, though we have to compensate the status quo dearly for their time.

When I was seriously ill some years ago, I was forced to shop around and negotiate the price of a life-saving operation as if my life were a used car. There are not enough superlatives to describe the profound indignity of this.

A method of sane and consistent pricing would stop this idiocy. It is this way across the rest of the democratic world. No one is uninsured or bankrupt; their costs are half of ours. Vermont could do this as well — that is, if we wanted to.

Walter Carpenter