Market no solution for health care

September 13, 2012

Rutland Herald

In the recent Times Argus/Rutland Herald article Randy Brock seems to think the “magic bullet” of the “free market” can be applied to health care and provide us with universal coverage. His thesis essentially says that all we have to do is deregulate the health insurance industry by relaxing community rating rules, make it more like Maine’s, and the markets will take care of our health care needs.

Before the 1990s this deregulation is exactly what we had in Vermont when health insurance company underwriters could “cherry pick” their customers and claims examiners routinely denied coverage based on arbitrary rules. Also many had to accept high-deductible polices with co-pays that actually discouraged people from accessing the medical care that health insurance is supposed to provide. Unfortunately, this particular problem of high deductibles still exists. Having health insurance is not synonymous with having health care.

The fundamental difference between the candidates is that the Shumlin administration thinks of health care as a right and a public good. This is why Vermont is moving to a single-payer health care system orchestrated by the Green Mountain Care Board, whose meetings are open to all. Vermonters will also have control over decisions by the GMCB through their state representatives because of legislative oversight.

Randy Brock apparently thinks of health care as a commodity and uses the comparison of shopping for a TV at Costco or a Best Buy to support his position. His idea of heath care reform is no reform at all and will do nothing to improve our health, which is the point of any health care system.