Project aims to elucidate medical debt

BURLINGTON — The Office of Health Care Advocate (HCA), a project of Vermont Legal Aid, recently launched a storytelling project focused on medical debt and its impact on Vermonters. Because the HCA assists thousands of Vermonters every year with a broad range of questions and problems related to insurance and access to health care services, it has identified medical debt as a major challenge facing many Vermonters.

“The HCA works with individual Vermonters and acts as a voice for all Vermonters in health care policy matters,” said chief Health Care Advocate Mike Fisher. “This project aims to deepen our understanding of the day- to-day impact of medical debt on Vermonters. The stories we collect will help us understand how medical debt impacts Vermont families’ health care decisions. This project will also help us advocate for policy changes that have the potential to reduce Vermonters’ debt when accessing the care they need to help them get and stay healthy.”

As part of this project, the HCA is conducting a survey that focuses on medical debt and its impact on Vermonters’ access to health care. They have partnered with over a dozen Vermont organizations that are sharing the survey within their networks.

“We know far too many Vermonters have medical debt and health care costs are outpacing most Vermonters’ ability to pay,” said Megan Polyte, HCA Medical Debt Project Organizer. “I invite all Vermonters to help us address this issue by completing our confidential survey and sharing their experiences with current or past medical bills.”

The survey can be found online at or by calling 802-448-6943 to complete the survey over the phone or request a printed version. All Vermonters are invited to complete the survey. Participants will be entered into a drawing for $25 VISA gift cards to thank them for their time. The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete. Preliminary results will be shared in the fall.

The HCA also operates a free HelpLine to support any Vermonter experiencing a problem related to health insurance or access to care. If you have a current health care or health insurance issue, please contact the HCA’s HelpLine at 1-800-917-7787 for free and confidential help.


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