The reality is that Vermont’s health-care exchange website may be even a bigger mess than the federal-run HealthCare.Gov. And health care in Vermont may be headed for a unique train wreck due to its efforts to become the first state in the country to implement a single payer plan.
One of the president’s key selling points of the ACA was the promise that if you liked your plan, you could keep it. We’re learning that’s often not the case as Obamacare is implemented across the country. And in Vermont, there has been no pretense of such assurance.
As of January 1, 2014, in Vermont, the ability for individuals or employers with 50 or fewer employees to purchase health insurance from private insurance companies ceases to exist. As for policies already covering those businesses and individuals? Those cease to exist, as well. In other words, in Vermont, a good percentage of its population will have no choice but to buy health insurance through the state exchange.
But despite the urgency of getting the exchange launch right and the givens that should make it easier rather than difficult—small state, high rate of literacy, 98 percent English speaking—Vermont’s website seems as bad or worse than the federal system. I’m not a Vermont resident, but I have been in the past and still spend a lot of time in the state. In the past week, I’ve spent hours on the state’s health-care system and have experienced nothing but a series of maddening problems reminiscent of computer life 15 years ago. On a half-dozen occasions I’ve fought my way through the system to register, only to return to discover the system has no trace of my registration. I expect that each of these visits and each of these “registrations” have been recorded as unique visits and registrations, which could help explain in part the disparity between “visits” and “registrations” versus “enrollments.”