Vermont Health Connect enrollment rises as deadline nears


With just over a month left in open enrollment, it's coming down to crunch time for Vermont Health Connect.

Despite ongoing problems with the state's health insurance website, enrollment figures for individuals continue to rise and, as Gov. Peter Shumlin often points out, are higher per capita than those in any other state.

The latest figures from the Department of Vermont Health Access, presented to lawmakers Wednesday, show 33,291 individuals have selected a plan and 28,486 are fully enrolled.

That includes people who signed up for coverage through the exchange starting in January, February or March.

An additional roughly 40,000 Vermonters who receive coverage through a small business will also be enrolled directly through the insurance carriers by the end of open enrollment.

The state has not given a time frame for when small businesses will be able to use the website, and last week Shumlin indicated that they may continue to be directly enrolled by insurers through the rest of the year.

The state continues to give its enrollment figures in the number of policyholders rather than the number of lives covered by those policies, so the actual number of Vermonters covered by a plan purchased on the exchange is greater.

Higher than expected numbers of people are qualifying for Medicaid thanks to that programs expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

However, close to 500 of the 15,000 people who applied for coverage on Vermont Health Connect and discovered they qualified for Medicaid are still being processed and don't yet have that coverage - though it will be retroactive to the month in which they signed up.

Last year, there were 51,000 people on Vermont's subsidized health coverage - such as VHAP and Catamount - and of those 62 percent are now enrolled in Medicaid or a Vermont Health Connect plan.

Wait times at the call center are down sharply, from a high that averaged 50 minutes in late December to just one minute in recent days.


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