Carriers cut choices due to glitches with Vt. Health Connect - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Carriers cut choices due to glitches with Vt. Health Connect

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Four-and-a-half months into Vermont's new health exchange, the governor touts the state site as better than the rest. He highlights its best-in-the-nation per-capita enrollment rate, sinking average hold times at the call center and says no one is being denied coverage.

"Sure, the rollout was messy, frankly. Let's remember that the rollout was messy in every single state and my friend President Obama has his challenges with it. So, it's not that Vermont's in a unique spot here," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

The gap between those who have selected, paid for and received proof of insurance is closing according to administrators. But last week, Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson also revealed the exchange experienced seven privacy incidents since mid-December and three more events are under investigation. All involve instances of incidental and inappropriate access to customer information. However, Larson bristles at the term "security breach" because employee errors led to access, not hackers trying to get in from the outside.

"I had a tremendous amount of difficulty completing the website, and I develop websites," said Dana Adams, who works for a marketing company in Burlington.

Despite his struggles, Adams picked employer-sponsored exchange coverage last year. He selected a platinum plan, but late last week he discovered he'll have gold coverage instead. That's because his choice is no longer on the table.

"The unfortunate thing is I have to pick a plan which is not the best choice for me," Adams said.

Blue Cross Blue Shield President and CEO Don George says they planned on allowing small business employees to pick any qualifying plan Blue Cross offers. 

"The functionality in order to be able to do that just isn't available," George said.

But George says consumers lost that option when website glitches forced the state to allow direct enrollment through carriers rather than via health connect. He says that would have given insurers like Blue Cross a lot of extra paperwork to do because the website was supposed to handle that. So, the company narrowed its offerings to just three plans per small business to make the paperwork easier to manage. Fewer plans than promised-- but more than were offered before the Affordable Care Act.

"Where I know that there are some that would have liked to have greater choice, I've talked with many who have understood that in the near term they're better off being in a stable environment without risk," George said.

MVP Health Care will continue to make every offering available to its small business customers.

Adams says he still doesn't understand why he couldn't keep his old, pre-exchange plan.

"As it works out right now, one of the plans I can pick is going to work OK for us for this year, but I'm going to have to reevaluate that for next year," he said.

Though businesses will sign up for coverage directly through carriers, individuals must still use the website to select a plan. Some did choose to extend old coverage until April; they will have until March 15 to select an exchange plan without experiencing a gap.

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