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Vermont Legislature
Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

Key Health Insurance Deadline Approaching

The state of Vermont is making a final push to convince thousands of uninsured Vermonters to sign up for health insurance coverage by the end of the month.

"We really want to encourage Vermonters to sign up by March 31 because it is the end of the open enrollment period." - Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson

Mark Larson is the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health Access. He says the March 31 deadline for open enrollment is important if individuals want to avoid a penalty for not having coverage.  The penalty is 1 percent of the person’s income or $95 which ever is larger.

Larson says his office is expanding hours for its call center, and is staffing office locations throughout the state.

“We really want to encourage Vermonters if they haven’t already and they’re looking for coverage to sign up by March 31 because it is the end of the open enrollment period,” said Larson.

Larson says individuals don’t need to complete the application process by the end of the month but they do have to start the process.

“We work with them even after March 31 if they have attempted to access coverage and experienced difficulty,” said Larson. “We’ll work with them to get the coverage they’re looking for.”

Larson believes that many people who currently don’t have insurance coverage will qualify for sizeable federal subsidies.

“Many will qualify for financial help which is making coverage more affordable for many who are signing up,” said Larson. “And so we welcome them to sign up on line, by phone, or with an assister.”

Larson says the March 31 deadline will not affect individuals who lose their coverage during the course of the year due to a loss of employment or divorce. And people who qualify for the expanded Medicaid program can enroll at any time during the year.

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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