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Vermont Becomes First State To Set Rates For Health Care Exchange

Toby Talbot
AP file

Vermont is the first state in the nation to finalize premium rates for the new state health care exchange.

The formal adoption of the rates marks an important milestone for the state’s new health care exchange known as Vermont Health Connect.

Beginning on January first, all individuals, and businesses with fewer than 50 employees, will have to go through the Exchange to purchase their insurance policies.

Two insurance companies, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and MVP are offering a total of 18 different coverage plans that go into place on January 1.

Governor Peter Shumlin says the state has developed a consumer friendly website, where Vermonters can compare the various plans.

It is affordable - the rates are very competitive with the current rates that we have right now - Gov. Peter Shumlin

“The good news is you’ll find it on one single website. It’ll be easy to navigate. You’ll be able to match it with subsidies from the federal government,” said Shumlin. “And it’s affordable the rates are very competitive with the current rates that we have right now.”

Robin Lunge is the director of Health Care Reform for the Shumlin Administration. She says it’s important to realize that the benefit package for all of the plans is exactly the same.

She says premiums vary depending on the size of the deductible and the total out of pocket expense that a consumer selects.

“So there’s no guesswork about what services are covered. Really what the choices provide are a range of options around how much you pay when you see the doctor versus what you pay in your monthly premium and those are organized into four tiers or medal levels called bronze, silver, gold and platinum.”

With the federal subsidies that are available through the Exchange, the average single Vermonter making $35,000 a year would pay about $230 a month for the policy that has largest out of pocket cap. A family of 3 with a household income of $60,000 would pay around $340 a month for that same policy.

As part of the menu of plans that are available, very high deductible, catastrophic policies are available to people under the age of 30.

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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