The Bennington Free Clinic continues to care for adults who have no health insurance. We depend on our volunteer nurses, doctors and many others to provide health care. We think everyone has a right to receive health care and it should not depend on a person’s income.

Most of our patients have jobs but barely make enough to get by. We try to do our best to provide care, although we encounter many hurdles caused by the fractured, and sometimes incomprehensible, national system within which we must work.

You may think your health care and health insurance are satisfactory, but there are many people in Bennington who are not so fortunate. It is estimated that 1,500 people in the county are without health insurance and therefore, can’t afford health care.

Thirty-six percent of Vermonters under age 65 are underinsured. These people have insurance plans that do not sufficiently cover medical expenses, usually because of high deductibles or other out-of-pocket costs. They hesitate to go to the doctor because there will be a copay and the insurance will not pay for the visit.

In addition, studies show that the health of Bennington County is very near the bottom of the list of the 14 Vermont counties. Bennington needs more help than much of the rest of the state.

We pay far more for our health care than any other nation. Our health outcomes are not very good when compared to others. We have high numbers of Vermonters who are uninsured or underinsured.

When will we realize that this system cannot go on as-is, and switch to one that provides health care to all? When will we realize that we could save hundreds of billions of dollars if we eliminate insurance companies and control drug costs? Why must we depend on free clinics?

G. Richard Dundas, MD, lives in Bennington.

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