Pay up or die is our system

July 03, 2014

Rutland Herald

Twenty thousand dollars. This was the hospital’s “going rate” for the operation I needed to stay alive. I knew the operation. I had already logged three of them for the liver disease (from natural causes) which had nearly killed me that year. I had health insurance through an employer. I lost this during a company “restructuring.” Now, without insurance, ineligible for Vermont’s public programs (this was in 2007, just before Catamount), the disease returning, I faced an awful decision: excessive medical debt or death. Pay up or die.

Mr. John McClaughry in his recent commentary, “Three single-payer systems” (Rutland Herald, June 26), disses single-payer systems of “rationing, waiting line, maddening bureaucracies. ...” Yet, he conveniently forgets how our health system does its rationing through financial means (pay up or die), something unknown in single-payer nations. These nations record better outcomes for all citizens at less cost than our broken system has ever achieved. We have long waiting times and “maddening bureaucracies.” These bureaucracies are private; they like to issue claim denials, deny authorizations for treatments (both happened to me), while enriching their CEO’s. According to a report by Healthcare Now, ( health insurance CEO pay skyrocketed in 2013.

Under the program envisioned by Gov. Peter Shumlin, no Vermonter will ever again have to pay up or die like I had to do. Mr. McClaughry conveniently forgets this fact.