Single payer's many benefits

September 06, 2014

Rutland Herald

Mr. Steve Trahan’s letter “How does state generate $4,800 per person for health care?” (Rutland Herald, Sept. 2) shows a complete lack of understanding of single payer, or of Vermont’s health care situation in general.

Mr. Trahan’s first gaffe concerns the costs of single payer. He says, for example, that the “vast cost” of single payer will reach “upwards of three billion dollars,” or about $4,800 per Vermonter. Even if Mr. Trahan’s numbers, based on his estimates, were correct or more or less close, the problem with his math is that we are already paying this tab to the private health insurance industry. For this “vast cost,” we have high-deductible insurance plans which ration access to care because of cost, some 40,000 or so uninsured Vermonters, and bankruptcies because of medical debt. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) might mitigate this doleful situation; it will not stop it. Only single payer will end it.

What is happening with what Mr. Trahan disparagingly disses as “Shumlincare” is that this “vast cost” of plans, premiums and high deductibles is being shifted away from premium-based insurance. Single payer is, in no way, adding billions more to this tab (about $2.6 billion — Vermont’s total tab, for private and public insurance is about $5 billion) as Mr. Trahan seems to infer. Single payer will help stymie our perennially escalating health care costs by reducing the huge amounts of paperwork the present system now necessitates. It will do what is done in every other democratic nation: insure all Vermonters without cost, employment or eligibility barriers to stop them from access to care.

It is sad that Mr. Trahan does not understand this.