Opinion: County shouldn’t lose full-time health care navigator

I was distressed to find out that by week’s end (June 27), there will no longer be a full-time Vermont Health Connect Navigator in Addison County. The person who has been doing this job, at Porter Hospital, will no longer hold the position, owing — so I am told — to the loss of a grant for the program’s support.
I needed to sign up for health insurance coverage last January. My circumstances being somewhat complicated, I opted to call a navigator and found one at Porter. As it transpired, I would have made mistakes trying to navigate this system on my own. Even the navigator had to spend some three hours getting me set up. I could not have managed it properly online on my own, owing to the complexities of my case and the hopeless disarray of the system. To highlight the disarray, I will also say that I have had to call the navigator three times since January concerning various mistakes made by Vermont Health Connect with respect to my coverage. In every instance, he was able to resolve the problems.
Now we have one lone part-time navigator in the county doing this job. Really? The Health Connect system seems little improved after months. I have only sympathy for those who try to navigate this system on their own in future. As we learned this month, the system’s delays in processing status changes have led to payment errors at Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and the insurance carrier is now trying to recoup some half-million dollars in erroneous claims payments to health care providers across the state.
I will be happy to age out of the system and into Medicare next year. It can’t happen soon enough.
Marcia Merryman-Means

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