MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- The state’s largest hospital had almost two dozen patients seek treatment with health insurance policies provided through Vermont’s health overhaul system since the start of the year, yet more than half of those did not have insurance cards, an official at Burlington’s Fletcher Allen Health Care said Thursday.
Of those, two people sought health care from the Fletcher Allen Emergency room and the rest registered Thursday for non-emergency services from the hospital, Fletcher Allen spokesman Mike Noble said.
"The start of this year has gone about as we expected it would go," Noble said. More details will be available next week, he said.
Vermont officials overseeing the implementation of the new health insurance system through Vermont Health Connect say it’s likely there will be a number of people, especially those who registered late in the process, who will seek treatment before their documentation has been processed, and there could be no record of their coverage.
Fletcher Allen has said it would wait up to three weeks before billing customers who said they were covered, but no record could be found of their coverage. The extra time would allow the processing of those applications.
After three months of an enrollment process that was plagued by problems with the Vermont Health Connect website and a series of changes in the requirements needed to ensure people have access to coverage, the new system began offering benefits at midnight on Jan. 1.
Of the hospitals informally surveyed Thursday from one end of the state Vermont to the other, Fletcher Allen, by far the state’s largest health care provider, had the most patients seeking treatment with coverage provided as part of the health overhaul.
The Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin had one patient who sought treatment with the new insurance, hospital spokeswoman Susan Kruthers said. The patient did not have a card, but she was told to send it in when she receives it, Kruthers said.
A number of Vermont Health Connect-covered patients visited North Country Hospital in Newport without cards on Thursday, hospital spokeswoman Wendy Franklin said. But, she did not have a number.
State officials have said about 52,000 Vermonters are now covered by the new system, and enrollments are continuing to pour in.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont spokesman Kevin Goddard said about 3,000 individuals have completed the enrollment process to be covered in the new system by his company, and more enrollments are coming in, including about 1,000 since Tuesday. About 14,000 individuals are covered through small businesses.
But Thursday was too early to determine how many, if any, of those people had sought health care using their new insurance. The claims themselves are submitted electronically and Goddard could not say if any had been submitted.
"For all those reasons, while there’s a lot going on, there’s not a lot to report," Goddard said.