Make Primary Care Free

April 08, 2016

 Times Argus

Make Primary Care Free

The commentary “Make primary care free” (Times Argus, March 27) is on to something. Primary care is the core of our health care. The recent attempts at reform, like the Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), and the all-payer waiver, are revolving around the necessity of primary care.

Hard experience taught me some years ago how absolutely essential it is to have access to a primary care physician. This is not only for routine maintenance, but to prevent anything that might be going awry from spiraling out of control and costing more money or becoming fatal.

This is what befell me. In the amazing dysfunction of our health-care-for-profit system, I had lost my primary care provider through the exigencies of employer-sponsored health insurance. The timing was perfect for the disease that was growing inside me then to nearly kill me about a year afterward. My employer’s new health insurer, from out-of-state, possessed few “networked” primary care doctors in state. Naturally, the costs to visit a primary doctor without insurance were beyond my reach. The disease blossomed forth unmolested by treatment until it was nearly too late.

The key here is universal. All Vermont’s experiments in the past have never been able to institute a simple health care system allowing every Vermonter universal access. While it can be argued if these experiments ever intended this, making access to primary care free at the point of delivery would easily do it at minimum cost for maximum gain. For a mere “$48 more per person per year than what we are now expending on primary care,” as the letter said, we could save ourselves so much in money and lives by saving Vermonters from things like what happened to me.

Walter Carpenter