Open Enrollment: Extended Hours Today and Tomorrow for Vermonters

WATERBURY, VT –As 2019 Open Enrollment draws to a close for Vermont’s health insurance marketplace, state officials are urging Vermonters to sign up online at VermontHealthConnect.gov or to take advantage of the Customer Support Center’s extended hours: today from 8 am to 8 pm and tomorrow (December 15th) from 8 am to 5 pm.

Officials also warn that wait times can be long on the phones. Volume is always high when deadlines approach. This year, interest is especially high because existing members are poised to save hundreds of dollars by changing plans and most uninsured Vermonters can find plans that are almost entirely paid for by increased financial help.

“We are committed to helping Vermonters get into their chosen plan for January 1st,” said Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Cory Gustafson. “And I don’t want people to have to wait on hold a long time to do so. If you can sign-up online, please do. The system can handle the volume. If you call and are told the wait is more than 20 minutes, feel free to take the call-back option. Or just call us back tomorrow or next week. We’ll help you finish.”

Vermont does not have the authority to extend open enrollment but is permitted to help Vermonters apply or change plans after the deadline if they are unable to get through before the deadline.

The Department of Vermont Health Access also offered these suggestions:

• If you have a non-urgent question and don’t want to wait on hold, consider calling late next week.

• If you don’t qualify for financial help and have already signed up for 2019 coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont or MVP Health Care, don’t wait on hold today to cancel your Vermont Health Connect plan. Call next week when wait times are shorter.

• If you have family, friends or neighbors who still need health insurance, please encourage them to check the Plan Comparison Tool to see if they’ll qualify for a free or low-cost plan.

• Read and share the Department’s Open Letter to Everyone Who Has Helped Vermonters Get into the Right Health Coverage.

Fast Facts on 2019 Comparison Shopping

• The last four days have been the highest volume days ever for Vermont’s Plan Comparison Tool.

◦ Monday and Tuesday had 900 sessions each day;

◦ Wednesday and Thursday had more than 1,000 sessions each day;

◦ Prior to this week, the tool had never seen more than 760 sessions in a single day (that previous high being last December 15th).

• The 2019 tool has had nearly 35,000 sessions since its launch in late October.

◦ That’s more sessions than there are people in the individual market, including those enrolled outside of the health insurance marketplace;

◦ Usage is up 59% over last year.

• Vermonters are investing more time in their comparison shopping.

◦ The average session this year has been close to eight minutes, compared to just over six minutes last year.

• Most Vermonters who sign up through the health insurance marketplace qualify for financial help to lower their monthly premiums and/or out-of-pocket costs.

◦ Income thresholds vary by household size, going up to nearly $49,000 for an individual, $66,000 for a two-person household, and $100,000 for a family of four;

• Due to a complex set of policy changes, the federal government is providing a lot more financial help in 2019;

◦ A family of four earning $100,000 will receive over $3,000 more in financial help than they received in 2018;

◦ A couple earning $50,000 per year can find plans as low as $19 per month (92% less than it would have cost them in 2018);

◦ Many Vermont Health Connect members can save more than a thousand dollars by changing to a different ‘metal level’ insurance plan, per the 2019 Plan Comparison Tool.

###

Advertisements

Scam Alert from the VT Attorney General’s Office – Social Security Administration

Scammers are posing as the Social Security Administration claiming social security numbers have been compromised. They are seeking to gain access to your social security number.

Hang up!  Do not provide personal information or payment.

The scammers may have a realistic-looking number for Social Security Administration on Caller ID.

Please help us stop these scams by sharing the information with someone you know.  If you have questions about this scam, or have provided sensitive personal information or money to the scammers, please call the Consumer Assistance Program at 800-649-2424.

2019 survey on the #Vermont Legislative session for the Deerfield Valley

This year I’m collaborating with fellow Deerfield Valley legislator Rep. John Gannon on a brief 16 question survey which is designed for you to weigh in on what areas you’d most like the legislature to spend their time on. There are a few additional questions about issues that could emerge during the 2018 Vermont political discussion. We are hoping you will consider giving some brief input prior to the the legislative session which begins January 9th and will likely go through early May.

This survey is intended for our constituents in Dover, Halifax, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham, and Wilmington but our weekend residents and neighbors are free to weigh in.  The only required questions are name and town of residence. The survey should take you about 5 minutes to complete if you choose to answer all of the remaining questions.

Take the survey

A reminder about the Consolidated Communications hearing in Readsboro Monday November 26th:  After a significant increase in repair and new service complaints this summer, the Department of Public Service petitioned the Public Utility Commission for an  investigation to be conducted. There will be two hearings statewide – one in Readsboro at the school on November 26th starting at 6:30 and another in St Albans at BF Academy on December 6th at 6:30. Please share this information with your neighbors and ask them to attend or file comments with the PUC on case #18-3231 if they have experienced a service quality or new installation issue. It seems likely that Vermont’s policymakers are not aware of the extent of the service quality issues, or the results of the billions of dollars of deferred maintenance. While we all want to see more internet and cellular service, unreliable land line phone service in areas without cell or internet poses significant dangers for vulnerable populations and public safety.

Please stay in touch with issues of concern,

Rep. Laura Sibilia

#Vermont Official Drives All Over the Map Checking Cellphone Signals

As we look to ensure the safety, education and healthcare needs of all Vermonters, this is an important project undertaken by Vermont’s Department of Public Service and Agency of Digital Service. #

Valley News – Vermont Official Drives All Over the Map Checking Cellphone Signals Royalton — Can you hear him now?Corey Chase is driving at a snail’s pace along the dirt roads around Royalton and Barnard in a state-owned Prius, backing his car into driveways, turning around, retracing his route.Mounted inside the car to his left is…
— Read on www.vnews.com/

Southern #Vermont Economy & Connectivity events

Please share this information and I hope you will attend any events that can fit into your schedules.

Southern Vermont Economy Zone CEDS: Windham and Bennington County are fast approaching the finalization of a plan to grow the economy which over 700 of our fellow Southern Vermonters have contributed to. You can read more about that process here, and there are public meetings across Southern Vermont tomorrow and Thursday.

Consolidated hearing: There are significant telecommunications events happening in Southern Vermont in the coming month – one is a hearing by the Public Utility Commission on Consolidated Communications.  After a significant increase in repair and new service complaints this summer, the Department of Public Service petitioned for an  investigation to be conducted. There will be two hearings statewide – one in Readsboro at the school on November 26th starting at 6:30 and another in St Albans at BF Academy on December 6th at 6:30. Please share this information with your neighbors and ask them to attend or file comments with the PUC on case #18-3231 if they have experienced a service quality or new installation issue. It seems likely that Vermont’s policymakers are not aware of the extent of the service quality issues, or the results of the billions of dollars of deferred maintenance. While we all want to see more internet and cellular service, unreliable land line phone service in areas without cell or internet poses significant dangers for vulnerable populations and public safety.

Connectivity Summit: The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation’s Southern Vermont Economy Project has organized a 2nd Annual Southern Vermont Connectivity Summit.The event will take place at the Grand Summit in Dover, VT from 1pm-4pm on Friday November 30th. This event is geared towards town manager, town administrators, select board members and town organized committees but is free and open to interested members of the public. Content is structured to assist communities or groups of communities in improving their overall connectivity through planning and collaboration. Sarah Lang is the SVEP Manager and can be reached at slang@brattleborodevelopment.com or 802-257-7731 ext. 222

CEDS times of public input follow: 

Brattleboro Public Input
Wednesday November 14, 2018 | 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM EDT
Education Conference Center * Brattleboro Retreat * Brattleboro

Bellows Falls Public Input
Wed November 14, 2018 | 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Lower Theater * 7 Square * Town of Rockingham, VT 05101

Wilmington Public Input Session
Thursday November 15th, 2018   |  8:00 AM – 10:00 AM EDT
Old School Library  *   School Street  *   Wilmington, VT 05363

Bennington Public Input Session
Thursday November, 15th 2018 | 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT
Masonic Lodge * 504 Main Street * Bennington, VT 05201

Manchester Public Input Session
Thursday November 15th, 2018  |   6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Manchester Town Hall   *  6039 Main Street  *   Manchester, VT 05255