Is cheaper better? Ask Teddy Green

To the Editor:

Your editorial, "Just Wait Until 2017," (6/4/14) would have warmed the heart of Bellows Falls millionaire Hetty Green, "Witch of Wall Street," who never met a nickel she wouldn't squeeze. She chose an oatmeal poultice over more costly medical care for her son's infected leg, and for the rest of his life Teddy Green never had to consider which pant leg to put on first. Hetty would have assumed lower health insurance policy costs are always better, but a lower policy rate just might conceal an oatmeal poultice.

Vermont's per capita health care cost was $7,635. These costs were borne in part by the patients (national average,16.3%) and by the 13 health plans available in the state. Fifteen states have per capita health care costs similar to or greater than Vermont's, ranging from Florida (69 insurers, $7,156) to Alaska (3 insurers, $9,128).

While there is no direct correlation between number of insurers and per capita expenditure (Texans, with 69 insurers, paid $5,924, while Utahns with 17 insurers paid $5,031) the bigger problem is that "cheaper is better" is simply not true. Out of pocket, the Floridian paid $1,145 for health outcomes which put him in 34th place for national health care rankings; the West Virginian paid $1,227 to keep himself in 47th place, and the Vermont paid $1,244 to keep him/ herself in first place.

Hetty Green would, however, have approved of single payer health care as being more cost-effective than the health exchange system.

SOURCES:

Wall Street Journal "Health-Care Costs: A State-by-State Comparison," 4/9/13, Consumer Reports (http://www.consumerreports.org/health/insurance/health-insurance-plans.htm),

(http://www.consumerreports.org/health/insurance/health-insurance-plans.htm; http://online.wsj.com/news/interactive/HEALTHCOST0409F20130409?ref=SB10001424127887323884304578328173966380066; Health Care Cost Institute, "Children's Health Spending: 2009-2012")

Chuck Gregory

Springfield, Vt.

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