Editorial: Math as Poor as the Website - The Caledonian-Record - St. Johnsbury, VT
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home : opinion : editorial February 6, 2016

3/20/2014
Editorial: Math as Poor as the Website

On Tuesday, Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson boasted to lawmakers that the state had hit its enrollment goals through the embattled Vermont Health Connect.

He said the state had enrolled over 100,000 Vermonters in federally qualified health plans, according to reporting from VTDigger.org. The Burlington Free Press put it at 36,846 households.

However it's reported, Larson's figures are pure fiction.

First of all, the state set a target to enroll 100,000 people in private health care plans - purchased through the $100 million Health Connect website. The goal specifically excluded Medicaid enrollees because the programs are completely different and have separate processes.

But in his figures, Larson still included 33,549 residents who were "automatically transferred" to Medicaid, according to VTDigger.

Secondly, Larson includes between 30,000 and 40,000 people who were enrolled directly by insurance companies, through their small-business employers, completely outside of the exchange. The state mandated participation from small businesses (with under 50 employees) but then couldn't deliver a functioning mechanism to allow it (and still has no timetable to do so). Ironically the same insurance companies so vilified by Governor Peter Shumlin are the same ones who delivered the lion's share of Larson's figures, Tuesday.

Of those people, only 16,534 have made any payment and actually have an insurance card, according to the Free Press.




Meanwhile, precisely none of them can make any changes to their status (so please no kids, marriages, coverage changes or mistakes in filling out your forms) and nobody could pay online. Most had miserable online enrollment experiences, followed by long hours on hold to a call-center, culminating in a paper application.

So the true figure of Vermonters enrolled in the state's health care exchange, after hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing and a third-world website, is 16,534. The state has no idea how many of them were among the 40,000 un-insured Vermonters whose plights were invoked to kick off this grand experiment. It forgot to include a mechanism to track that.







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