Your Guide to Vermont Health Insurance
Before we jump right into Vermont health insurance and everything you need to know, let’s start with a little background information. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a “Obamacare” or ACA) was passed with the goal of getting all Americans access to affordable health insurance. To meet this goal, one measure Obamacare took was to create the ACA health insurance marketplaces, or health exchanges: one-stop shops where Americans can choose from a range of standardized, government-regulated health care plans. Health exchanges are also where eligible people can get subsidies, which lower the cost of their health plans.
States were given the option to run their own local exchange, take part in a multi-state exchange, or use the federal exchange. States that run their own exchanges get to customize many elements, including the time frame during which their residents can sign up for a plan. Several states decided to operate their own state exchanges and continue to do so to this day. Vermont is one of those states.
Vermont’s Health Insurance Landscape: Then and Now
The Vermont health insurance exchange is called Vermont Health Connect. Before the ACA, 6.8 percent of Vermonters were uninsured. Since the introduction of Vermont Health Connect, the percent of Vermonters without health insurance has dropped to 4.6!
28 thousand people have enrolled for health insurance through Vermont Health Connect, and it has one of the lowest uninsured rates in the country.
The Vermont Health Insurance Exchange
Vermont Health Connect is where eligible people throughout the state can find subsidized ACA plans. Open Enrollment for 2019 in Vermont begins November 1 and ends December 15. Your coverage will start January 1. This sign up window is the exact same as the window given on the federal exchange!
Vermont Health Connect encourages people who aren’t eligible for subsidies to directly enroll through their insurance company rather than through the exchange. This helps Vermont Health Connect provide better customer service and reduce costs!
Like all other state exchanges, each plan on Vermont Health Connect covers 10 essential health benefits. These include things like prescription coverage, maternity and mental health care, and laboratory services.
Buying insurance with Vermont Health Connect involves four steps:
1. Create an account on Vermont Health Connect
2. Complete the online application form
3. Compare your options
4. Select your plan and enroll
In true health insurance fashion, each of these steps can be trickier than you expect. Many people need help navigating the website, estimating their income, figuring out if they are eligible for subsidies, and understanding what documents are needed for proof of income, citizenship, or identity. Luckily, you can find an in-person assister to help you with your application!
Vermont Health Connect’s Intricacies: What You Need to Know for 2019
Both insurers that offered plans on Vermont Health Connect for 2018 will continue to do so for 2019. This means both carriers are returning to the exchange. These two carriers include:
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
MVP Health Care
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is the state’s largest insurer, having a greater share of the Vermont health insurance market.
According to a recent Green Mountain Care Board press release, insurance plan prices are increasing. The amount by which it increases depends on where in Vermont you live. On average across the state, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont plans will increase by 5.8 percent if you choose to keep your current plan, while MVP Health Care plans will increase by 6.6 percent if you choose to keep your same plan. While this may seem scary, most health insurance shoppers can generally avoid rate increases entirely by switching to the cheapest plan within their metal tier. Not to mention, you will likely qualify for a health insurance subsidy, which can help make your plan more affordable; of the 28 thousand people enrolled through Vermont Health Connect, 79 percent receive federal subsidies. Additionally, non-silver plans will likely cost less than they did in 2018 for subsidized members due to these subsidies increasing!
If you live in Vermont, the start of Open Enrollment (the time of year when you can enroll in a new health plan) is just around the corner. Start preparing now to find your most affordable plan, and you’ll be well on your way for smarter, better savings all year long. And don’t forget – if you need help finding a subsidy or picking a plan, our experts are here to help!