On January 19, 2017

High cost of health coverage irks Vermonters

By Karrie Etzler

It’s the start of another year, and while some Vermonters are preoccupied with the pursuit of personal ambitions and keeping resolutions, there are others, far less content and facing uncertainties, chief among them affordable health insurance.

According to Dr. Timothy Cook, a Rutland-based physician at Convenient Medical Care, who has been practicing medicine for over 16 years in the area, the situation is untenable.

“Every year my revenue by way of insurance reimbursements goes down while expenses go up,” Dr. Cook told the Mountain Times.

“I encounter people every single day who used to have good health insurance, and now have none, because they have to choose between health insurance or feeding their children. I’m hoping that’s going to change,” he added.

Being also of the opinion that the purchasing power of Rutlanders is ever on the decline, Cook is also calling for “meaningful employment” to be brought into the city, so as to enable families to better safeguard their health and well being by getting insured.

“I know people who used to work one job, with a decent salary and benefits, who are now having to work two and three jobs to make up for the loss of that one job,” he said.

But, it is not just the high costs associated with getting heath insurance that residents find troubling. They are also bemoaning the fact that the health insurance system is highly complicated and hard to navigate. As a result, there are families that go without health coverage  in order to avoid the hassle. Among those who share this viewpoint is Eileen Reynolds of Benson.

“Even though the government is trying to make sure everyone has insurance, I’d still like to see a less complicated and less expensive insurance plan for Vermont.

“Anyone who has ever had to deal with making sure they acquire health insurance through Vermont has encountered multiple hurdles, as to my knowledge. I know … families who have found trying to figure out the insurance system frustrating. I myself could not figure it out,” Reynolds said.

Shortly before leaving office, former governor Peter Shumlin had also acknowledged the need for a more affordable heath care plan for Vermonters.

“Getting control of health care costs is the single biggest thing we can do to make Vermont a more affordable place to live, work, and raise a family,” Shumlin said.

The former governor had made his remarks in a statement released last October, when he signed into law the newly minted Accountable Care Organization (ACO) agreement. That agreement, which was made between the state of Vermont and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, gives incentives to doctors who keep people healthy, instead of just seeing them when they are sick.

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