Vermont health insurance exchange
Vermont Health Connect making excellent progress towards total enrollment goal
By Louise Norris
November 27, 2013
By November 10th, Vermont had already enrolled 3,500 people through Vermont Health Connect, which is about 12 percent of the expected total enrollment for 2014. Percentage-wise, this puts Vermont far ahead of most other exchanges. The exchange made headlines in late November, following reports of a security breach that occurred in early October. The problem appears to have been limited to a single application however, and steps have been taken to prevent future security issues.
Vermont created a health benefit exchange to comply with the Affordable Care Act, but the state has plans to go well beyond that. A 2011 state law envisions Vermont with a single-payer health care system as soon as 2017.
For now, Vermont has implemented a state-based exchange, Vermont Health Connect. The exchange was authorized by the state legislature and signed into law in 2012. Vermont used a 2012 federal grant of $104.2 million to design a technology system that will support the state-based health insurance exchange in the short-term and the single-payer system in the longer term. The state plans to transition to Green Mountain Care – providing universal coverage – in 2017.
Two health insurance carriers - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Care - are offering nine plans each in Vermont Health Connect. Rates in Vermont’s exchange are the fifth highest in the nation, due in part to the low number of carriers participating, and also to the fact that Vermont has the second-oldest population in the country and utilizes community rating, with no variation in premiums based on age.
Individuals and businesses with 50 employees or fewer who want to purchase health insurance will have to do so through the exchange beginning in 2014 – policies will not be sold outside the exchange. In addition, Vermont’s 2012 Act 171 required that all existing individual and small group policies must terminate at the end of 2013 and be replaced with coverage purchased in Vermont Health Connect. Unfortunately, Vermont’s exchange has been plagued with technological difficulties and was still not operational as of the beginning of November, a full month into open enrollment. As a result, Governor Shumlin opted at the end of October to utilize a contingency plan that was built into Act 171, allowing for existing policies to be extended into 2014 in order to avoid lapses in coverage. The Governor has said that existing individual and small group policies may be extended until March 31, 2014, and residents have until that time to enroll in a policy through Vermont Health Connect.
According to Kaiser’s State Health Facts, 9 percent of Vermonters are uninsured; that’s about 56,340 people.
Vermont health insurance exchange links
Vermont Health Connect