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

Bungled Health Reimbursements Affect Vermont Teachers

21,000 Vermonters, many employed by Vermont School Districts, have had problems with the health reimbursements they are supposed to receive from their employers.

The trouble began in January when the nonprofit Vermont Education Health Initiative, which provides health coverage to school districts, changed coverage plans and included new deductibles.

That's when many districts sought health reimbursement accounts from the Williston company, Future Planning Associates.

VEHI's president Laura Soares says Future Planning Associates was unable to grow fast enough to accommodate the 21,000 new members, and administer the school districts' customized HRA plans.

"Some accounts did not get setup, some got setup improperly, some people did not get their debit cards, funds have been sent in the wrong amount," Soares says.

Future Planning Associates terminated its contracts with the school districts and transferred the school employees' HRAs on May 1 to the Arkansas company, DataPath.

Employees currently can’t get reimbursements from the new company: A blackout period will last from May 1 through May 20.

In the meantime, VEHI says it will waive out of pocket costs for prescriptions for eligible members. 

Correction: A previous version of this story said 24,000 educators and family members were affected by troubled HRA accounts. The correct number is 21,000. 

Emily Corwin reported investigative stories for VPR until August 2020. In 2019, Emily was part of a two-newsroom team which revealed that patterns of inadequate care at Vermont's eldercare facilities had led to indignities, injuries, and deaths. The consequent series, "Worse for Care," won a national Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting, and placed second for a 2019 IRE Award. Her work editing VPR's podcast JOLTED, about an averted school shooting, and reporting NHPR's podcast Supervision, about one man's transition home from prison, made her a finalist for a Livingston Award in 2019 and 2020. Emily was also a regular reporter and producer on Brave Little State, helping the podcast earn a National Edward R. Murrow Award for its work in 2020. When she's not working, she enjoys cross country skiing and biking.
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