Since 2011, Vermont has held the distinction of both designing and implementing the best healthcare system in the country. The single payer option seemed to make the most sense to policymakers due to the state’s small population and low levels of economic inequality. In other words, there was a small amount of people that shared, more or less, the same socioeconomic status. Early reports in 2011 marked the successful implementation of the healthcare model, which was shared around the county as the “solution” for our healthcare industry problems. However, it only lasted 4 years.
The success was short-lived. In 2015, the state decided to end the single-payer system due to two significant factors. First, the government could not control the premiums which eventually rose to 9.5% of individuals’ incomes. Second, small businesses experienced difficulties in funding the new plan especially with steadily rising premiums. Due to the cost increase, to fund the health plans Vermont would have had to raise taxes by 160% stated by the Wall Street Journal.
The Vermont model gave rise to the Massachusetts health plan model. In some ways the Massachusetts model is similar to the Vermont model, as both are designed to be a single health plan model with guaranteed coverage for state citizens. However, it is the distinctions between these plans that made the Massachusetts model the virtual template for the Affordable Care Act. Like Vermont, it was described as nearly universal healthcare with an added penalty for not enrolling in health insurance. However, with this plan there were more health insurance benefit level options, as opposed to the single platinum option from Vermont. The Massachusetts healthcare model is the foundation of the Affordable Care Act for the nation. Are the variances between the Vermont and Massachusetts’ models different enough to assume the same failure in Vermont will not result in Massachusetts too? Preliminary reports from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation report Vermont failed to keep healthcare costs low and Massachusetts continues to struggle. Massachusetts and Vermont are unable to control healthcare costs of their members, require additional funding to keep tax increases low, and have failed to increase consumer engagement.
It is extremely difficult to predict the future success or failure of our healthcare industry. If we continue to reform the model will this elicit a more positive result? What are your thoughts?