Health Care

The Deeper Dig: The care board’s balancing act

Green Mountain Care Board
The Green Mountain Care Board hears public comment on Blue Cross premium increases in July. File photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

The Green Mountain Care Board made two decisions this week that, taken together, affect health insurance premiums for every customer on Vermont Health Connect. Wednesday the board declared that MVP Health Care could raise premiums by an average of 3.5 percent, and on Thursday the board capped Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont’s increases at 9.2 percent.

Regulators set both rates lower than insurers had requested, but many consumers, advocates and even members of the board have said these rates don’t go far enough toward making health insurance more affordable for Vermonters. VTDigger’s health care reporter Erin Mansfield explains.

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Mike Dougherty

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  • Jay Eshelman

    Vermont’s Green Mountain Care Board exemplifies governmental cronyism. On one hand the board allowed BCBS a 9.2% premium increase and MVP Health Care a 3.5% increase. Never mind that there are only two providers in this quasi monopoly. What ‘factors’ does the board consider? Who determines what these ‘factors’ are? How can healthcare consumers judge the efficacy of the board’s judgment?

    Answer: We don’t know and we can’t judge.

    BCBS of Vermont is a licensed franchise of the national BCBS system. While the five largest for-profit insurers (Aetna, CIGNA, Humana, UnitedHealth and WellPoint) had combined profits of 11.7 billion in 2010, BCBS’s aggregate organizations had $5.5 billion in net income and, reportedly, BCBS has “…more than five times that amount in capital above what state regulators require.”

    Free markets are, and have historically been, the best regulators of market supply, demand and the ‘market equilibrium’ cost benefit ratio. Of course, if the market is regulated and restricted, monopolies arise. Supply and demand is artificial and those in charge of the regulations are lobbied by the monopolies to regulate supply and demand, ostensibly for the better good of human kind, but inevitably for the better good of the monopoly providers and, of course, the regulators. After all, being a non-profit organization doesn’t mean the people who work in those organizations don’t realize a profit.

    Free markets respect the ‘sovereign consumer’. The proof that government enabled cronies do not hold that respect is couched in the ever increasing costs whittling away at everyone’s income and standard of living. When is the last time anyone saw costs decrease as they have, for example, in the computer industry?

    Sooner or later those of you who currently buy into democratic socialism are going to see the light. I only hope the epiphany isn’t too late for all of us.