Monday is a big day for Vermonters who don't receive insurance through an employer -- it's the last day to select a plan for January health coverage through Vermont Health Connect if you want to access financial assistance to reduce health care premium and out-of-pocket costs.
If you have yet to visit to VermontHealthConnect.gov to check out your coverage options, you should do so today. You might find a good deal waiting for you. Take Mitchell from Lincoln. After checking out Vermont Health Connect, he found he'll be able to cut his monthly premium rate in half, while also lowering his deductible from $2,500 to $150. Then there is Tessa, who posted on the Vermont Health Connect Facebook page that she and her husband will cut their monthly premium by two-thirds, from $1,500 to $500. What would you do with an extra $1,000 a month or $12,000 a year? Or Rachel, who tweeted "... as a full-time student interning full-time, I will receive free healthcare starting in January."
In fact, if you're a single Vermonter earning less than $46,000 a year, or a family of four earning less than $94,200 a year, you'll most likely qualify for financial help to make coverage more affordable. And some Vermonters may qualify for free coverage through an expanded Medicaid program. The point is you'll never know unless you log on to VermontHealthConnect.gov and check out your options.
There's been a lot of news coverage about Vermont Health Connect, the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare, much of it focusing on what's gone wrong. But Mitchell, Rachel and Tessa are examples of what's gone right. They are real Vermonters saving real money, and you could be one of them. But the only way to find out is by logging on to VermontHealthConnect.gov today.
In order to get January coverage, and access financial assistance to help make that coverage more affordable, you have to select a plan on Vermont Health Connect by Dec. 23. You can still select a plan after that date, but you'll miss out on the opportunity to qualify for financial help for the month of January. After you sign up you will be sent a bill for your January coverage. That bill needs to be paid by Jan. 7. However, you should pay your bill as soon as possible so you have an insurance card in hand for the first of the month.
To see your health care options, sign up for coverage or find a navigator who can help you sign up, go to www.VermontHealthConnect.gov. You can also call 1-855-899-9600. Vermont Health Connect is up and running for Vermonters who don't get insurance through an employer.
Whatever your situation is, I encourage you to log on today and check out your coverage options. The website is vastly improved, and many users are pleasantly surprised by the experience. Once you have all your information, it takes about 20 minutes to sign up.
If you've been waiting, the deadline for January coverage is on Monday, so time is almost up. Starting in January 2014, many Vermonters will qualify for financial assistance to reduce health care premium and out-of-pocket costs. But the only way to access that assistance is to go through Vermont Health Connect. Don't think you're one of the Vermonters who will qualify? You may be surprised.
Mark Larson is the Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access.