State Officials: Enrollment For The Affordable Care Act Ends Friday, Act Now

Dec 11, 2017

The additional outreach efforts are taking place because the overall enrollment period this year for the Affordable Care Act is much shorter than past years — ending on Friday.

A year ago the enrollment period lasted three months. This year it runs for just six weeks.

Sean Sheehan, Deputy Director of the state's Health Access Department, says the new deadline is important because it's very difficult for someone to sign up for coverage outside of the enrollment period: There has to be a "qualifying" event like the loss of a job or a divorce.

"If they don't have insurance they should to sign up, they need to confirm a plan before Dec. 15 otherwise they might not be able to get coverage until before 2019," said Sheehan.  

Sheehan says the number of inquiries about coverage is up significantly this year. But he says part of the increase is probably due to the shorter enrollment period.

"The fact that it's up forty percent is a good sign that our partners, our stakeholders, our members, other Vermonters are really getting the word out letting people know that the deadline is Dec. 15 this year," said Sheehan. 

Sheehan says his office is also working with local community members to help identify Vermonters who are interested in obtaining health care coverage.

"If they don't have insurance they should to sign up, they need to confirm a plan before Dec. 15 otherwise they might not be able to get coverage until before 2019."—Sean Sheehan, Deputy Director Vermont Health Access

"I think with Vermont having such a low uninsured rate it's a really targeted set of people who don't have insurance so we're doing the best we can to directly target those people,” said Sheehan.

Mike Fisher is Vermont's Health Care Advocate. His office fields hundreds of calls from Vermonters who have questions about the Affordable Care Act.

"If you're thinking about signing up for health care or you're think this is a task you need to take care of the time is now after Friday it's going to be too late so we're really encouraging people to pay attention to open enrollment this year,” Fisher said. 

Approximately 28,000 individuals enrolled in Vermont Health Connect last year and Fisher says about two thirds of them were eligible for premium reductions.

"Many people find out that they're eligible for or their children are eligible for Medicaid, for Dr. Dinosaur, so now is the time to really pay attention to this."—Vermont Health Care Advocate Mike Fisher

"Many people find out that they're eligible for or their children are eligible for Medicaid, for Dr. Dinosaur, so now is the time to really pay attention to this,” said Fisher.

Fisher says he's also concerned that some Vermonters might be misinformed about the status of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

While a proposed tax bill in the Senate eliminates the mandate, Fisher says it's not certain that this provision will be part of the final law, so for the time being, he says the mandate is still in place.