Single-payer's many benefits

February 16, 2013

Rutland Herald

On Jan. 24, the Shumlin administration presented their report on the financing for a single-payer health care system in Vermont. This report demonstrates, as all previous reports on single-payer have done, that a single-payer type health care system will simultaneously save Vermont substantial amounts of money while providing better care as well as access to care for all Vermonters — something the mess we have now has consistently failed to do and never will accomplish no matter how we try to tweak it.

What was not measured in this report, or in any other report for that matter, is the incalculable savings on the unimaginable stress levels our emphasis on private health insurance causes. The examples are legion. A friend of mine is still paying enormous monthly bills for a family medical emergency despite having health insurance. Between premiums, deductibles, and co-pays he and his family spend about $10,000 a year for health insurance in a family plan with a private insurer. With all this expense, and even after burning through the wall of the deductible to finally get to the insurance, he still had to pay 20 percent of the total bill which he is still paying off several years later. They almost lost their home; they still live on the edge of bankruptcy.

I tried to console him by relating how I was once uninsured and had to face a procedure to save my life. Without it I would die. The hospital wanted $20,000 for it. It was the “going price” without insurance. “How much is your life worth?” I asked my friend. “I had to make that decision.”

We were not consoled.

With single-payer all these kinds of stresses will be eliminated. This alone is priceless.