Private insurance root of problem

June 19, 2015

Rutland Herald

The commentary, “Health care problems run deep” (Rutland Herald, June 14) was an excellent recipe for how not to return Vermont to prosperity in regards to health care reform. While the solutions for which the commentary advocates — make the exchanges voluntary, get rid of the Green Mountain Care Board’s rate-setting authority for private practice, stop the Medicaid expansion, restore and rebuild the private market, to quote several at random — would definitely enhance the prosperity of a few, and only a few, they would decrease prosperity for so many more.

The letter conveniently ignored one important fact about these health exchanges. Whatever else can be said of them, they are little more than private insurance packaged in a slightly different container. A better name for them could easily be something like “the private insurance self-preservation act.” At bottom, the public is subsidizing private insurance. The private market never once kept “our health care system under control.” The exchanges will not end this shame, nor will making them voluntary. This will just bring back one of the private market’s most loathsome traits: cherry-picking. Insurers could profit from baiting younger and healthier customers with worthless, high-deductible policies and force older people onto the exchanges.

If this nation had the moral and political courage to deliver on the “promise of high-quality health care for all” we could do as Sen. Bernie Sanders suggested and simply expand Medicare or Medicaid to do it. These true universal health systems accomplish this promise at vastly less cost than the private system has ever done and can ever hope to achieve, whether in or out of the exchanges.

I do agree that Vermonters, like all Americans, should hold our state and federal government accountable for their abysmal failure to deliver on this promise.