Vermont Health Connect is opening a special enrollment period in an effort to ensure that Vermonters who don’t have health insurance can sign up as the state braces for the coronavirus pandemic.
The enrollment period is open now and will run through April 17. According to state officials, coverage could potentially begin as soon as April 1 depending on when people enroll.
“We have started to see people reach out to us who are panicked because they are losing their health insurance due to the COVID outbreak,” Mike Fisher, Vermont’s chief health care advocate, said.
As job losses mount related to the business shutdowns in the face of the pandemic, many people are worried about losing their coverage. Anytime anybody loses their insurance because they lose their job, they qualify for a special enrollment period to sign up for health care through Vermont Health Connect, Fisher noted.
However, this special enrollment period will allow any Vermonter who doesn’t have insurance to sign up. Through the application process, people can also find out if they’re eligible for financial assistance to help cover the costs of their plan.
“People having full access to care is a public health need,” Fisher said. “We don’t want any Vermonter to delay getting the care they need because they’re worried about the bill.”
The Department of Vermont Health Access, which runs Vermont Health Connect, is also taking other steps to remove barriers for people signing up for Medicaid coverage.
Fisher said the state is focusing its resources on getting people signed up.
The state is temporarily waiving the financial verification process that applicants for Medicaid go through when they sign up. Typically, Nissa James of DVHA said Saturday, when someone applies for Medicaid coverage, they are asked to provide documentation if data doesn’t confirm their financial statements. That is temporarily on hold.
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The state also annually reviews the coverage of people enrolled in Medicaid to check that they still meet the program’s eligibility requirements. But, throughout the duration of the coronavirus emergency, DVHA will not be doing those reviews “in order to preserve continuous health care coverage,” James said.
Also, the state will not end anyone’s Medicaid coverage while the public health emergency is ongoing, unless the individual requests it.
People seeking to enroll in a health care plan can do so through the Vermont Health Connect website.
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