Opinion: It works – really?
He works full time. She works part time. They both make minimum wage. They have a large family. He had some health insurance. She had none. Their combined income was such that their children were covered under Dr. Dynasaur; that is, until they let their 3Square benefits lapse. He was the only one with health insurance after that. That is when the work of a Vermont Health Connect Navigator began.
Rebecca Moyer is a CVOEO Navigator for Vermont Health Connect. She is available to answer questions and to help complete applications for health insurance through the Vermont Health Care Exchange. Moyer feels that the intensive systems improvements to the state exchange have made applying for coverage easier and less frustrating. At one point she actually described the system as “elegant.” Moyer has helped Vermonters who have never been insured obtain a plan through Vermont Health Connect. Navigators continue to be an important resource for Vermonters wanting free, local, in-person support with questions and the application process.
Open enrollment for health insurance coverage begins Nov. 1, 2015, for Vermonters who want to apply for the first time or renew coverage in 2016.
Timing is critical. The deadline to enroll for Jan. 1 coverage is Dec. 15, but CVOEO Lead Navigator Tatum O’Malley is encouraging Vermonters to contact their local Navigator as soon as possible to schedule appointments. Anyone not enrolled in a 2016 health insurance plan by Jan. 31 won’t be able to access coverage through Vermont Health Connect in 2016 unless they lose coverage, have another qualifying life change, or become eligible for a public plan: Medicaid or Dr. Dynasaur.
Crisis in the form of a lost job, health issues or a life-altering change doesn’t wait for dates or open enrollment periods. Moyer is working with those in need of blood work, an MRI and other necessary medical procedures. They are waiting for that Nov. 1 date.
Most Vermonters who apply for coverage through Vermont Health Connect are eligible for credits and discounts that lower the cost of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. A Navigator can explain what the potential savings are and the tax implications of the federal premium tax credit. Due to an increasing tax penalty for going uninsured and the availability of cost reductions, many Vermonters will pay less this year for basic coverage than they will for going without.
He is a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran who was uninsured and homeless. That isn’t the end of the story. He is now enrolled in Medicaid and 3Squares Vermont, and is working with the Veterans Administration to secure housing. Sandrine Kibuey, assistant director of CVOEO’s Chittenden Community Action and a Vermont Health Connect Navigator, can attest to how complicated life circumstances can be. She also knows that isn’t the end of the story.
CVOEO offers health insurance navigation assistance at our offices in St. Albans, Burlington and Middlebury. It works — really.