To Vermont Health Connect. Really?

Here it comes, one more complaint about the Vermont Health Connect. If you follow this blog and you don’t live in the so-called great State of Vermont, then let me enlighten you about the Vermont Health Connect. Throughout history, Vermont has prided itself on always wanting to lead the nation in things like health care, laws, etc. A few years back, I’m thinking like toward the end of President Clinton’s second administration, rumblings began about changing the way health insurance works in this country. Vermont heard the rumors and began formulating their own health care reform. We do like to be first. The result is the Vermont Health Connect. It was unveiled a few months before President Obama unveiled his Obamacare package. If you think Obamacare sucks, then you haven’t seen the Vermont Health Connect.

All Vermonters were required to sign up before the end of 2013, so I dutifully went in just after Thanksgiving when the site went online and registered, got my password and username, and all that stuff done. Then, since my husband and I are both unemployed, I found I was eligible to sign up for VHAP or Vermont Health Access Plan. That’s the state welfare equivalent of Medicaid. I answered the questions, hit enter and waited.

A few weeks later, two cards came in the mail from Green Mountain Care, one of the administrators of the Vermont Health Connect. The cards came attached to those pages that have no writing on them, one had my husband’s name and ID number, and one had mine. I took them off the paper, gave him his and slipped mine into my wallet and thought nothing more of it.

On Tuesday my husband had a doctor’s appointment. We went, he presented his card, and the woman behind the counter looked at it, looked something up on her computer, and then handed the card back and told us we needed to call the administrator of the card, because she suspected it wasn’t a health insurance card. When we got home, he called, and sure enough, what they sent us was a prescription card, not an insurance card. Now, if there had been some identification or some writing on the paper that said this is a prescription card only, then I would have called right away to find out where my health insurance cards were.

Well, I called yesterday to find out where said health insurance cards were. First, I waited 45 minutes on hold before someone finally answered the phone. I called at 10:15 and waited until 11:00 before someone picked up the line. Jim had a job interview at 10:30. I called just as he left the house and was still waiting for a human being when he returned. When Candace did finally pick up, I had to rebuke her a little for the long wait time. I’m sorry, but it felt justified by then.

I explained my predicament and she told me that when I signed up for VHAP they had already made the decision to end VHAP at the end of 2013, but they had to continue to offer it through the end of the year. There was no notification that VHAP was ending. So, as it turns out, I signed up for a health insurance that wasn’t going to be offered in the coming year, so I have been without health insurance coverage since the beginning of 2014. Since I had received cards in the mail with no indicator of what they were, if we hadn’t had a doctor’s appointment so early in the year, we could have potentially gone the entire year thinking we had coverage when we didn’t. Candace then told me I had to go back in and apply again for Medicaid because it is now income related as well as age and disability related. Then I have to call back and get a form to fill out for retroactive coverage so we will be covered from January, otherwise our coverage doesn’t begin until March and Jim has an MRI scheduled in February.

I went back into the Vermont Health Connect site yesterday, or at least I tried to. I had to ask to have my Username sent to me because I couldn’t remember it, then I had to have my password reset because I had forgotten that as well. I went back in, put in my Username. Success. I got to the password page. I put in my password and nothing happened. I put it in again, thinking I might have mistyped it and got a blank page with a message across the bottom that said: Processing Error, Try Again Later. I tried again later, and again later, and again this morning. I can’t get into the site. So frustrating. Last night on the news Mark Larson, the Vermont Health Connect Administrator was on and they were asking him about the myriad problems Vermonters are having with the website and getting coverage, etc. He so carefully picked his words that I knew it wasn’t just me. They don’t know what they’re doing and they also don’t know how to fix this giant problem they created by rushing to be the first to unveil socialist medicine.

I guess I have to call Vermont Health Connect again and wait for another 45 minutes to an hour for someone to answer the phone so I can enroll over the phone because I can’t get into the website. If I had one piece of advice for our lawmakers it would be this: Being first shouldn’t always be more important than being the best. We could have waited a bit longer and made sure that everything worked right before sending this particularly leaky boat out to sea. Just saying.

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