Navigating-Health-Exchange

User’s Guide to Vermont Health Connect

 

Welcome to VTDigger’s “User’s Guide to Vermont Health Connect”

Vermont Health Connect was launched on Oct. 1 to serve individuals and those employed by companies with fewer than 50 employees.

 

The Web-based marketplace was instantly besieged by questions from consumers and by technical problems. It is our goal with this special section to help Vermonters understand what is expected under the new law, help them find assistance, inform them of their options and tax implications and serve as a definitive resource for information. We hope it serves that purpose.

 

This section was reported by Andrew Stein, with graphics assistance by Hilary Niles, Web design by Stacey Peters, editing by Anne Galloway and copy editing by Cate Chant. Special thanks to artist Tim Newcomb for creating the cover illustration.

 

Tom Brown, section editor

What the heck is Vermont Health Connect?

Gov. Peter Shumlin address participants in a Vermont Health Connect forum held at Capitol Plaza  Hotel in Montpelier last month. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger
At its most basic level, Vermont Health Connect is a state-run, Web-based marketplace where Vermonters can compare and buy health insurance plans.

 

What’s an employer to do?

Claire Benedict and her husband, Rob Kasow, owners of Bear Pond Books and Rivendell in Montpelier. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger
By Nov. 25, employers must decide whether they want to drop coverage, extend their current coverage for three months, buy plans directly from an insurer or choose a plan through Vermont Health Connect, which still isn't working properly.

 

What employees and individuals should know

Creative Commons photo
First, find out what your employer intends to do. There are tax benefits if your employer offers you insurance through the exchange, and there are subsidies available to offset the cost of your premiums if the employer doesn’t.

 

Not so fast: Glitches lead to contingency plans

Gov. Peter Shumlin announces a delay in the implementation of the state's new health care exchange Thursday in Montpelier. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger
Technical problems that accompanied the rollout of the state’s new health insurance market led officials to allow insurers to extend their current plans through March 31.

 

Mapping the navigators: Where to look for help

Navigators with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce (from left) Julie McDonough, Laura Doe, Kathy Megrath,  Karen Winchester and Shannon Wilson. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger
Use this interactive map to find a Vermont Health Connect in your area.

 

Do I qualify for a subsidy?

StockXchng image of stethoscope and calculator.
In its effort to encourage everyone to buy health insurance, the government is offering subsidies to help offset the cost of premiums. This assistance is based on family size and household income. Use our interactive subsidy estimator to get started.

 

Penalties and taxes: The cost of not having coverage

Vermont state income tax form for 2012.
To go along with the carrot of subsidizing health insurance premiums for many Americans, the law also contains the stick of penalties for those who refuse coverage.

 

More Vermonters will qualify for Medicaid

Medicaid
A change in the calculation used to determine eligibility and the elimination of the Catamount and VHAP insurance programs, mean thousands more people may qualify for Medicaid benefits.

 

How Vermont’s exchange premiums compare nationally

Robin Lunge, director of Health Care Reform for the Shumlin administration, speaks at a Vermont Health Connect forum in Montpelier last month. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger
The state has the fifth-highest premium rates in the country among health care exchanges.

 

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