As the majority of American citizens are well aware, Monday, March 31st, was the last day for most people to sign up for health insurance through the exchanges for coverage this year. Tuesday, the White House reported that they have surpassed their goal of 7 million people enrolled, with the 207,586 people who enrolled Monday in states run by the federal government alone. In addition to the federal exchange, the state-run exchanges fared very well, even before the final weekend surge. The state leading the way? None other than Vermont.
Last week The New York Times reported, “Eight states signed up 20 percent or more of the potential market for private insurance. Of these, the top four states have Democratic governors and set up their own exchanges.” In itself, it’s great news and no surprise for the Democratic party. But even better, Vermont enrolled 54% of the eligible market, which was double that of the next best state exchange enrollment, which was our neighbor to the South , Rhode Island.
As Vermonters, we should be proud to not only live in the state leading the way with our health care exchange, but to be able to say that for the first time ever, health care will be a certain right, not a privilege, for every single Vermonter. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you work – you can be covered.
Let’s look at the numbers for a moment — 50 years ago today, health care costs made up 5.6% of GDP. Today, it’s 20%. The costs in Vermont have grown at an alarming rate - 4.5% annually; faster than wages, profits, or growth. The average Vermonter paid $8,200 in health care spending in 2012. If we simply did away with our health care reform, residents of the Green Mountain State would pay an estimated $2.23 billion in health care premiums in 2017, not to mention there would still be many uninsured. This is a huge problem, and we know we can do better.
Green Mountain care will save money on what is currently being spent and will be a system where no Vermonter is denied coverage, a system based on where you live not where you work. Private insurance premiums will disappear and no Vermonter will be denied the treatment they need. Small businesses will be able to focus on creating jobs and remaining successful, instead of being burdened with expensive, inadequate health care plans. Individuals won’t have to struggle to find health care if they lose their job. In Vermont we look out for one another, and Green Mountain Care is built on that tradition. You never know when you’ll get sick and need health coverage. But under Green Mountain Care you’ll know that when you do, you’ll be covered.