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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

State Launches Huge Public Education Campaign On Health Care Exchange

Starting on January 1, all individuals and businesses with fewer than 50 employees will use the Exchange, known as Vermont Health Connect, to purchase insurance.

We are expecting the systems to be ready - Mark Larson, Commissioner of Department of Vt. Health Access

A variety of plans will be available. They all have the same benefit package but they have different deductibles and co payment options. The plans with the largest out of pocket expenses have the lowest premiums.

Mark Larson is the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health Access. He says the system will be ready to enroll Vermonters on October 1.

“We are expecting the systems to be ready,” said Larson. “And then we know that there’s a substantial effort required to make sure that Vermonters are getting the information they need, the tools that they want, to be able to prepare for that period of time beginning in October where they can start making choices about coverage for January.”

Richard Boes is the Commissioner of the Department of Information and Innovation. It’s the agency that’s responsible to make sure all of the technical components of the Exchange work seamlessly together. He’s confident that they will.

“The underlying technology has a very significant track record,” said Boes. “And so that positive track record of all of this actually makes that easier it doesn’t make it easy obviously it’s a lot of hard work by a lot of people to pull this together.”

The state plans to spend $6 million on a paid media campaign and 2 million dollars to hire 250 people, known as “navigators”, to work directly with individuals and businesses.

Peter Sterling of the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security is one of the navigators. He says it’s important for his team to go out in the community to meet with people one on one.

“You can’t wait for low and middle income people to come to you they will not do it their lives are busy they have other things going on,” said Sterling. “So the fact that we have a navigator effort that’s community based going into local areas to met people where they normally congregate like at a food bank or at a farmers market that is the key to success of getting people enrolled.”

State officials say 170 navigators have already been trained and another 80 will be coming on line in the coming weeks.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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