Vermont’s health care costs continue to soar, and state regulators haven’t done enough to curb them, according to Auditor Doug Hoffer.

The average Vermonter now pays more than $9,000 a year for health care. That expense that skyrocketed 167% between 2000 and 2018, according to a report released by Hoffer’s office Tuesday. Housing and utility rates, by comparison, went up 104% over the same period.

The U.S. average health care spend is $7,191 per capita. Vermont has the second highest expenditure level in New England, just behind Massachusetts.

The report criticizes the state’s health care reform efforts, which have failed to slow the growth in costs. “You got to say, ‘boy, who’s at the wheel?’” Hoffer said in an interview. “Does anybody have the political will to stand up and say ‘no, this is not right?’ We can do better.’”

Green Mountain Care Board executive director Susan Barrett contended that the board had done what it could to lower costs, given its limitations. The board oversees hospital budgets and insurance rates, but has no control over drug costs or workforce issues.

“We agree health care is too expensive, here in Vermont and throughout the country. Period,“ Barrett said. “To say that we haven’t been using the levers we’ve been given just isn’t true.”

In 1997, Vermonters spent an average of 12% of their income on health care services. Two decades later, it has risen to nearly 17%. continue reading