Letters to the Editor

What ‘unaffordable’ health care means in Vermont

Aug 18 2022, 7:07 AM

Kevin Mullin, chair of the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB), called our state’s health insurance premiums “unaffordable” back in 2019. Those premiums have risen since then, and the GMCB just approved double-digit-plus increases for both Blue Cross and MVP, making health care far more unaffordable.

“Unaffordable” is a very abstract idea, but it produces very real harm to very large numbers of very real people in Vermont. The 2021 Vermont Household Health Insurance Survey indicates that 38% of Vermonters under age 65 are underinsured, while 32.3% of those on Medicare are underinsured. 

The Census Bureau publishes county data which includes total population and the portion of it that is 65 and over.

Applying the Household Survey percentages to the Census Bureau’s July 21, 2021, population estimates of each county, this is how many people are underinsured in each Vermont county:

Addison: 13,694

Bennington: 13,674

Caledonia: 11,170

Chittenden: 62,609

Essex: 2,160

Franklin: 18,633

Grand Isle: 2,725

Lamoille: 9,657

Orange: 10,847

Orleans: 10,097

Rutland: 22,210

Washington: 22,077

Windham: 16,868

Windsor: 21,298

For all 14 counties: 237,719

These are your friends and neighbors, praying nobody gets sick, opting for higher deductibles to get lower premiums, struggling to pay cash until the deductible is met, sinking into debt. You can read some of their stories here. 

These are the constituents of our legislators and our governor. How can they allow this to go on? Courage is apparently harder to find than misery.

Lee Russ