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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

State Launches Marketing Campaign For Health Care Exchange

In the next few months, Vermont’s TV and radio airwaves, and many newspapers, will be saturated with a marketing campaign that officials say is critical to the success of Vermont Health Connect.  The initial phase of the project will cost roughly $500,000.

Beginning in January, all individuals, and businesses with fewer than 50 employees will have to go through the exchange in order to purchase insurance.

Initially, Blue Cross and MVP will each offer 9 options.  All the policies have the same benefit package but they have different deductibles and potential out of pocket expense caps.

The first TV spot is deliberately general in tone. “For everyone who makes Vermont, Vermont. This is for you. A new way to find a health plan. Vermont Health Connect, it’s for Vermonters by Vermonters,” the ad says.

We want Vermonters to know about open enrollment starting October first and to know what coverage will be available for them - Lindsey Tucker, Deputy Commissioner Department of Vermont Health Access

The radio ads are more specific and encourage individuals to go to the Vermont Health Connect website to see if they’re eligible for federal subsidies. These subsidies are available for individuals with incomes under $44,000 and the cap for a family of four is roughly $92,000.  “A lot of people might think oh I won’t qualify because of x,y, or z – ask the questions get the information and see what you are entitled to. You might be entitled to a lot more than you thought.”

Lindsey Tucker is the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access.  “So in September we want Vermonters to know about open enrollment starting October 1 and to know what coverage will be available for them,” said Tucker. “And then starting October 1st we’ll have additional ads talking about how to enroll so that Vermonters can be sure to have coverage in January.”

Tucker says that while some Vermonters have little understanding about how the exchange will work, others are much more knowledgeable.  “I think there are folks who still aren’t aware of Vermont Health Connect and in many ways these ads are for them so that people can understand what Vermont Health Connect is and what the marketplace is,” said Tucker. “But when we go out and do forums there are Vermonters who have very detailed and specific questions.”

Tucker says it’s also important for Vermonters to know that the Call Center at Vermont Health Connect is now up and operating.  “Folks can call and get more information and also the in person assisters, the navigators, and the brokers who are trained across the state to help people face to face and in person to get that help,” said Tucker.

While some states have experienced delays rolling out their enrollment process, Tucker says there’s no question that Vermont is on target to begin enrolling people on October first.

Vermont Health Connect Call Center Contact Info:         1-855-899-9600

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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