Health insurance deadline nears

This article by David LaChance originally appeared Dec. 13 in the Bennington Banner.

As Friday’s closing of the open enrollment period approaches, residents interested in obtaining health care coverage are being urged to apply through Vermont Health Connect, or risk going uninsured until 2019.

state of Vermont

To obtain health insurance, all Vermonters need to sign up through Vermont Health Connect.

According to Sue Andrews, executive director of Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services, it can be very difficult to obtain coverage outside of the open enrollment period for the state’s version of the federal Affordable Care Act without a “qualifying” event, such as a divorce or job loss.

“The cutoff is very, very strict. It’s a federal mandate,” she said.

This year’s open enrollment period is just six weeks, compared to three months in previous years. Through the Bennington Free Clinic, a part of GBICS, 98 families have been enrolled during the period.

Since the inception of the ACA, often referred to as Obamacare, GBICS has enrolled approximately 1,000 families.

According to Andrews, about 1,000 Bennington County residents remain without health insurance. Of those, two thirds are “largely young men — the ‘young invincibles.’ Unfortunately, those folks, it takes being sick for them to [apply]. Until you are in dire need of medical care, you think you’re — invincible.” About a third of the uninsured are undocumented, she said, and cannot obtain coverage through the ACA.

Read full article at the Bennington Banner.

(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)

Image courtesy of state of Vermont