Box by box, Blue Cross Blue Shield staff Monday loaded a truck full of wool socks. The goal: cover the feet of Vermont's neediest children with 55,000 free pairs. Online -- Monday is the last day for Vermonters to get covered for January by health insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield.
"We continue to make progress. I'm urging Vermonters to continue to sign up. Today is the day that you need to sign up if you're a family or individual," Gov. Peter Shumlin said.
About 20,000 Vermonters have signed up for coverage through the web site, and another 30,000 are enrolled in eligible plans through their small employer. But individuals must select which of the up to 18 coverage choices they want before midnight to have coverage January 1.
"We are going to be as flexible as we can with people who miss the deadline this week, but we are continuing to encourage Vermonters to select their plan today," said Vt. Commissioner of Health Access Mark Larson.
At an afternoon press conference, Larson said once a plan is selected consumers payments must be postmarked by the due date listed on their invoice. That date may not arrive until after the first of the year, but if the consumers pay in time, their coverage will cover them for health events between the first and payment processing. "You may have to pay out of pocket and then that would be reconciled with your insurance company," Larson said.
Insurance cards will take still more time to arrive -- many after January first. But once a plan is picked and paid for, consumers can call the carrier to confirm their account and proof of coverage.
Elements of the state's site still are not ready, including the online payment option. Administrators say they do not have a status update on when full functionality will be available.
Those who miss Monday night's deadline will need to purchase coverage by the 15th of January to be eligible for February coverage.