State tool can help compare health plans

The state of Vermont has launched an updated online tool to help Vermonters weigh insurance options and choose the health plan that best fits their needs and budget. The 2019 Plan Comparison Tool is accessible online at VermontHealthConnect.gov and allows users to screen at least 26 health plan options.

The comparison function should be helpful given several big changes coming to the health care marketplace: Financial assistance for those who purchase insurance on their own will increase significantly in 2019; premiums for silver-level qualified health plans are increasing much more than other plans; new plans are available through insurers for subscribers who do not qualify for subsidies.

Although current Vermont Health Connect members aren’t required to compare health plans or to take any action at all — their plans automatically renew — the changes may make comparison shopping worthwhile, state officials said.

“This is not the year to auto-renew,” said Cory Gustafson, Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access. “Comparison shopping is how Americans try to get the best deal possible for all kinds of consumer choices. That is true for every purchase, every year, but it’s especially true for health insurance in 2019. The difference between the ‘right plan’ and ‘wrong plan’ could easily be thousands of dollars. Fortunately, the Plan Comparison Tool will help Vermonters identify the right plan.”

Open Enrollment runs through Dec. 15. This is when new applicants can sign up for health and dental plans for the coming year and for existing members to change plans.

Applicants can sign up in one of four ways: online, by phone, by paper, or with an in-person assister. For more information or to get started, visit VermontHealthConnect.gov or call 1-855-899-9600.

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