Letters to the Editor

Time to return to single-payer path

Aug 14 2022, 6:07 AM

The Green Mountain Care Board just approved double-digit rate hikes for Blue Cross Blue Shield and MVP Health. Blue Cross gets an 11.7% rate hike for small businesses and an 11.4% increase for individual and family coverage. MVP gets an 18.3% hike for small group plans and 19.3% for individual and family plans. 

Is your income likely to go up that much next year? While everyone involved in health care wrings their hands primarily over how to reduce costs, not focused as much on how to provide quality health care to all, many national and state studies show that a single-payer, publicly funded universal system will give more people more coverage and cost less (Congressional Budget Office; PLOS 2020 Medicine review of studies; Lancet 2020; and in Vermont JFO, 2011).

Right now one-third of all our health care money (taxes, premiums. deductibles, co-pays) goes to administrative overhead in the fragmented, for-profit way in which we have commercialized health care. Health care is even a commodity, paying dividends (our money) as it is bought and sold on the stock market. 

In the first quarter of 2022, insurance companies celebrated record profits (UnitedHealth Group, $5 billion; CVS Health (Aetna), $2.3 billion; Anthem, $1.8 billion; Cigna, $1.2 billion). And the CEOs of these insurance companies pocketed multimillions each in 2021 (Aetna CEO, $20.4 million; Anthem CEO, $19.3 million; Cigna CEO, $19.9 million).

Back in 2019, the chair of the Green Mountain Care Board admitted, “These rates are not affordable. We acknowledge they are not affordable.” 

Now things are far worse. The hodgepodge of payers we now have has clearly failed to provide us with affordable health care. It is past time to return to the path we were on in 2010-11 when the Legislature passed Act 48.

Single-payer in Vermont never failed. It never existed; it was never tried.

Ann Raynolds

Quechee