NMC Commentary

Open Enrollment for VT Health Insurance Runs through Dec. 15

If you do not have health insurance, or if you already have coverage and want to change plans for 2020 through the Vermont Health Connect exchange, you must do so by December 15, 2019. Having health insurance coverage is an important part of health and well-being. As we talk to patients and families, we stress that with coverage, you get financial protection from unexpected medical costs that can be significant. It also brings access to free preventive care like check-ups, screenings, and vaccines. You can work through the enrollment process online at: https://portal.healthconnect.vermont.gov

Recently, the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems summarized important information on open enrollment that I would like to share with you here:

“Open Enrollment for Vermont’s health insurance market began on November 1 and runs through December 15. This means that now is the time for individuals and families to obtain or change health insurance plans,” said Jeff Tieman, the VAHHS CEO. “Thanks in part to the availability of qualified health plans (QHPs) on Vermont Health Connect—our state’s health insurance marketplace—Vermont’s uninsured rate is just 3.2 percent. While this is something our state should be proud of, it is not true elsewhere: the overall uninsured rate in the U.S. continues to grow. At 13.7 percent, it is creeping up toward the 18 percent mark, where it stood before passage of the ACA. The ACA is working—in many ways better than before—but people still need to know how to access its benefits.” VAHHS went on to highlight:

• “Many people qualify for help in paying premiums for QHPs. In fact, some pay no premium at all. To see if they qualify and to receive premium assistance, Vermonters should use Vermont Health Connect’s decision tools.” These tools are located online at: https://info.healthconnect.vermont.gov/tax_credit_calculator
• Assistors throughout the state can help Vermonters sign up for health plans. They are available at a variety of locations like community health centers—some may work in your organization.” The list of assistors can be found online at: https://info.healthconnect.vermont.gov/sites/hcexchange/files/In%20Person%20Assister%20Directory.pdf Franklin and Grand Isle county residents are able to get assistance from Champlain Valley Office of Equal Opportunity (CVOEO) by calling 802 527-7392 and from our team at NMC by calling 802 524-1006.
• “Individuals must sign up for coverage during the Open Enrollment period of November 1 to December 15. At other times of year, they may still be able to enroll in plans if they lose health coverage or have other qualifying events, but it they delay for more than 60 days applying and selecting their plans, they might have to wait until Open Enrollment to get health insurance.” The qualifying events are detailed on line at https://info.healthconnect.vermont.gov/QualifyingEvents and include loss of coverage, aging out of parental coverage, marriage or divorce, birth or adoption, moving into the state, etc.
• “Individuals who want to stay on the QHPs they are currently on don’t need to do anything. As long as they keep paying their premiums, they will remain insured.”

If you need health insurance coverage or want to make a change in the coverage you have, do not put off reaching out and getting it arranged. The open enrollment period is short and there has been less advertising of the availability. It ends December 15 and that is coming soon! Please reach out to Vermont Health Connect and make the arrangements you need.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer