Green Mountain Care Board needs to hear from those affected by insurance rate hikes

BRATTLEBORO — Blue Cross Blue Shield and MVP Health Care are requesting massive premium increases this year. BCBS is asking for an average increase of 15.6 percent, and MVP is requesting a 9.4-percent average increase.

This is on top of the deductibles and copays that come with these policies, which render many of us who have insurance “underinsured,” meaning that we have a policy but don't use it because of high deductibles.

The Green Mountain Care Board is holding public hearings on these rate requests. The evening hearing, which will be entirely given over to public comment, will take place on Tuesday, July 23 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Montpelier City Hall, 39 Main St., Montpelier.

If these rate hikes will affect you or people you know, you can testify in person against the hikes or attend the hearing to support others who are speaking. We encourage people who will be affected by the rate hike to testify and others to show up in support.

It's important that people who are affected by these increases speak up. If you are on one of these plans, if you've lost Medicaid and have to purchase a plan, or if you are uninsured because you can't afford a plan, the GMCB should hear from you!

You can submit a comment online or go to the hearing to testify in person. In-person testimony is usually limited to two minutes, while written comments submitted online can be longer.

Here's a Vermont Workers' Center link, where you can submit a public comment online: workerscenter.org/calendar/2019/07/23/public-forum-to-stop-health-insurance-rate-hikes. You can do so even if you also plan to testify in person.

To sign up for a carpool, or if you want help preparing a testimony, contact [email protected].

Our past experience has been that the board grants an increase each year, but hearing from the public pushes them to approve an increase lower than what the insurance companies are seeking.

While this is hardly the solution that guarantees us the human right to health care, it does force the GMCB to exercise some regulation of the health-care industry, and it can make a difference in the lives of those of us who are facing these outrageous bills.

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