Letter: Universal Health Care Will Work

To the Editor:

The letter titled “Single-Payer Will Not Work” from John McClaughry (Feb. 20) completely ignores how single-payer does work, both abroad and here at home. If Mr. McClaughry has “studied health-care policies for 20 years or more,” as he stated, he clearly would have seen that publicly funded universal care has turned in much better results at far less cost, both per capita and per person. These systems cover all their citizens instead of those lucky enough to have the right jobs, income eligibility or to be a certain age. Our free-market version has never been able to achieve this.

The $2 billion Mr. McClaughry mentioned in his letter as the price tag for Green Mountain Care in 2017 (assuming this is true, which I do not) is already less than the $3 billion Vermonters now pay for private premiums — this without the high deductibles added onto the bills. The idea that private health insurance bureaucracies are any less hellish than public ones is a fantasy. I cannot speak for the Quebec Medicare system, which Mr. McClaughry mentioned when referring to “rationing, waiting lines, maddening bureaucracies.” I can, however, speak as someone who has been up against both public and private health insurance bureaucracies in Vermont. Nothing is as maddening as the little inconveniences of free-market insurance, such as claim denials, prior approvals, network and policy coverage problems, and much more — all of which I experienced when gravely ill several years ago while covered by employer-sponsored insurance.

When on VHAP (Vermont Health Access Program) after I lost my job, for example, it was bureaucratic paradise. Though I endured some hassles with it, I never had to fight a denied claim or treatments deemed “medically unnecessary” by an insurance company medical director. And the tens of millions of uninsured Americans speak to how effectively our health-care rationing works. If Mr. McClaughry had studied health-care policies objectively, he would have seen the problems with free-market health care. Universal health care will work in Vermont.

Walter Carpenter