Thursday, October 09, 2014

Sorry, your health care coverage can't actually be used.

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Subject: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2013
From: vthealthconnect@state.vt.us
To: [ ]@[ ].net

Dear [ ],

Hello! We are writing to let you know that you have a new notice regarding your bill for health care benefits from Vermont Health Connect. To view your notice, please click on the link below and log in to your account.

Your notice is: Premium Invoice

www.vermonthealthconnect.gov

After logging into your account, click on ‘My Account’ and select the ‘My Profile’ tab. Once there, click on ‘View Documents’ from the ‘Quick Links’ box. If you have any questions regarding this notice, please call Vermont Health Connect Customer Support toll-free at 1-855-899-9600, Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturdays 8am-1pm (except holidays and holiday weekends).

Thank you,

Vermont Health Connect

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Subject: Re: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2013
From: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>
To: vthealthconnect@state.vt.us

There doesn't appear to be a way to log in. There is a "logout" button, which remains "logout" after clicking it. No "login" button or pane.

In fact, because of the consequent inability to check my account and the lack of reply by telephone [since applying on line], I just sent in a paper application today. Which I guess is now unnecessary as far as setting up an account.

I think I would like a paper notice/statement/bill.

Thanks.

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Subject: RE: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2013
From: AHS - VT Health Connect
To: '[ ]' <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for writing.

To log in to your account, please go to https://portal.healthconnect.vermont.gov/ and click on “Start Here” found next to where you see “Are you looking for coverage for yourself or your family?” On the next page, please click either on “Login to your Account” or “Apply Now” as either will bring you to the log-in screen. Once you are logged into your account, you will be able to access your invoice using the directions in your original e-mail.

[Makes sense? Even if you have an account, you have to illogically click "Are you looking for coverage for yourself or your family?" to get to it. But perhaps that was an admission of the truth recorded here.]

As you've requested, we'll send a paper invoice to you in the mail. You can expect to receive this invoice within a week.

Please let us know if we can help you with anything else.

Kind regards,
Rebecca

Vermont Health Connect
Customer Support – 855-899-9600

Check out our website for updated information!

Links:
Vermont Health Connect: http://info.healthconnect.vermont.gov/
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/vthealthconnect

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Subject: Your Vermont Health Connect Invoice
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2013
From: Vermont Health Connect
To: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for completing your application for health insurance coverage through Vermont Health Connect. You may have received two invoices this month – one for your new (2014) Vermont Health Connect health plan, which begins January 1, 2014, and one for your former (2013) health plan, which was recently given the option of extending up to March 31, 2104.

You only need to pay the bill for the plan you wish to have effective on January 1. You do not need to pay the other bill. If you want help making the choice of which bill to pay, please call our Customer Support Center toll-free at 1-855-899-9600 and reference the code “VHC1215.” A customer service representative will then talk you through your options. Please note that our call volume is high at this time. We thank you in advance for your patience. If you applied through a Navigator, you could consult him or her as well.

Please note that you do not need to take any additional steps to cancel your former plan. Your 2013 health plan will automatically expire after you pay your premium and your 2014 plan takes effect.

We are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

Sincerely,

Vermont Health Connect Customer Service

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Subject: Starting coverage in February
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2014
From: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>
To: vthealthconnect@state.vt.us

I set up my account and selected a plan very early and received an invoice by mail (as requested) in December. However, I had already paid my Catamount Care premium for January, so I did not pay the premium for the new plan.

Now I need to make sure that I will get another invoice (by mail, please) for the new plans, to start coverage in February.

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Subject: RE: Starting coverage in February
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2014
From: AHS - VT Health Connect
To: '[ ]' <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for writing. We're so sorry for the delay in replying to your email.

I've reviewed your account and see that you also called and spoke with someone about this last week. As they told you, it is fine for you to just pay your premium for February. Your account has been marked so that your policy will start in February.

Please let us know if we can help you with anything else.

Kind regards,
Rebecca

Vermont Health Connect

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Subject: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2014
From: vthealthconnect@state.vt.us
To: [ ]@[ ].net

Dear [ ],

Hello! We are writing to let you know that you have a new notice regarding your bill for health care benefits from Vermont Health Connect. To view your notice, please click on the link below and log in to your account.

Your notice is: Premium Invoice

www.vermonthealthconnect.gov

After logging into your account, click on ‘My Account’ and select the ‘My Profile’ tab. Once there, click on ‘View Documents’ from the ‘Quick Links’ box. If you have any questions regarding this notice, please call Vermont Health Connect Customer Support toll-free at 1-855-899-9600, Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturdays 8am-1pm (except holidays and holiday weekends).

[Steps to view invoice:
• Click "Are you looking for coverage for yourself or your family?"
• Click "Log in"
• Click "My Account"
• Click "My Profile"
• Find the "Quick Links" box and Click "View Documents"
• Click the listed documents until you reveal the current invoice]

Thank you,

Vermont Health Connect

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Subject: Re: Starting coverage in February
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2014
From: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>
To: AHS - VT Health Connect

Today I received a "Payment past due/Termination Notice" from BCBS [Blue Cross/Blue Shield]. As noted below, this is because I was assured that it was OK to ignore the January premium and that the new policy was to begin in February. This was necessary because the invoice for January coverage under Catamount Care was due (and paid) before the invoice for the new BCBS policy under VHC was available.

According to the BCBS notice, "Vermont Health Connect has reported that full payment has not been received for your health insurance."

Please resolve this.

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Subject: RE: Starting coverage in February
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014
From: AHS - VT Health Connect
To: '[ ]' <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for contacting us. We're very sorry that you received the past due notice from BCBS. I see that you have paid each of your invoices well in advance of the due dates, and as you noted, the fault is entirely ours for not yet making that change to your coverage start date. Unfortunately, we don't have that functionality to make the change once your plan is in force, but we are working on it and will correct your account as soon as we are able.

You actually have a 90 day grace period, so there is no danger of your plan being terminated as long as you keep paying your monthly premiums as you have been doing.

Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

Kind regards,
Ellen

Vermont Health Connect

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And so I have been paying the monthly premium to Vermont Health Connect, ignoring the monthly "PAST DUE/NOTICE OF TERMINATION" notices from BCBS.

Secure in the knowledge that we do indeed have continuing "affordable health insurance" (which Vermont was already providing for almost everybody, effectively and without major problems: the "Catamount Care" referred to above). Secure, that is, as long as we would never need it, as it turned out.

I had an annual check-up scheduled in early October and was told by the doctor's office that a check of insurance status revealed it to be "pending". For that reason, they would not be able to submit the bill. I learned from a call to BCBS on Oct. 1 that "pending" in this case meant that I was behind in payments, because they still considered my coverage to have begun on Jan. 1 instead of Feb. 1, and therefore still expected an extra month of payment. In other words, despite the reassurance from Vermont Health Connect 8 months before that "we are working on it and will correct your account as soon as we are able", they still had not. Furthermore, the reassurance that "there is no danger of your plan being terminated as long as you keep paying your monthly premiums as you have been doing" turned out to be meaningless, since my regular doctor wouldn't risk billing to a "pending" insurance account. The person I talked with at BCBS helpfully transfered me to Vermont Health Connect, noting that she had heard that they may be "a few months" behind.

Thank goodness we have not been in any emergency situation or in urgent need of a prescription refill.

From Vermont Health Connect I now (!) learned that changing the start date required a new application because it is a "change of status". And so I was transfered to another office to handle that. The woman there, like everyone I have talked with at every step, it should be said, was very helpful and was able to use the original application to make a new one for coverage starting Feb. 1, ie 8 months earlier, to expire Dec. 31, ie in less than 3 months.

Now we were expected to have "new" insurance active in a couple of weeks, a new card in a week after that. Just in time to start the whole charade over again for coverage next year.

We essentially have had no usable insurance coverage since Feb. 1, despite regularly paying monthly premiums for it. What surprises lie in wait for us in the new cycle beginning Jan. 1, 2015, with a promised automatic renewal of coverage? Or in April, when the IRS recalculates everybody's share of their previous year of premiums?

The faster we move to a single payer system the better! Federally, Medicare was supposed to steadily expand in the 1960s to cover everyone, not just the elderly (but then it would have covered draft dodgers and black panthers along with "deserving" citizens like oneself). If the US government can not or will not provide that very basic service to all those who live within its borders, then the states need to go it alone. And I mean not just setting up some mash-up of federal support and state-provided health coverage, although that would be a welcome step despite the likelihood of its being as dysfunctional as the current private-public mash-up — I mean breaking away altogether from the government of Washington. Because health care is just one of its many failures, and war to gain world hegemony seems to be its only goal, war ordnance its only economy, squandering our common wealth as well as our lives, sacrificing them to an end that can only be catastrophic.

[Update:  Two and a half weeks later, we've received no notice about the "new" coverage, but instead a series of premium invoices (up to 4 so far), each one different from the last and none of them reflecting a resolution.]

[Update:  Four weeks later, we haven't received a new insurance card or any notice about the "new" coverage.]

[Update:  A month later, BCBS remains uninformed of the change, which Vermont Health Connect says was "finalized" on Oct. 14 (under a different "service request" no. than the "confirmation no." originally provided).]

[Update:  Five weeks later, the "change of circumstance center" has promised to notify BCBS today, which was supposed to have been done on Oct. 14 but was not. The reason another 2 weeks was required in the first place was because there is a child on S-CHIP, and that "start of coverage" (despite being continually covered under the auspices of the state for some 13 years already) was not supposed to change from January to February, so a new "change of circumstance" (the only change being the system's, not ours) had to be created to disinclude the S-CHIP part — it was done, but then someone neglected to tell BCBS. Oh, and a new "master case" number. Could it be more complicated? More counterproductive (unless, of course, prevention of care is precisely the intention)??]

[Update:  Five-and-a-half weeks later, BCBS remains uninformed of the change, which the Vermont Health Connect "change center" now says was "finalized" on Oct. 29 and confirmed that it was sent to "billing" who would then notify BCBS, which process could take 15 days, likely more as they are busy starting enrollment for next year. Vermont Health Connect customer service confirms the change, that the start date has been changed, billing reconciled, and BCBS informed. However, BCBS finds no change -- and it's not on the latest weekly confirmation list from Vermont Health Connect, waiting to be processed. BCBS suggests checking in another week.]

[Update:  A month and a half later, the "last invoice for 2014" has arrived, showing a "balance forward" of 10 times the new premium amount, presumably representing the charges for February through November of our "new" coverage, ignoring the year of payments for our "old" coverage for those same months. Then, inexplicably, the amount due adds only the SCHIP charge, not the next month's premium. Aieee!]

Further notes from 2015: 

May 13:  "Use this updated form [1095-A] when you complete IRS Form 8962 and file your federal income tax return [last month]."

Premiums due:  January 26: $627.52. February 26: $313.76. March 26: ($2.30). April 26: $311.46. May 26: ($238.36). June 26: $75.40. July 26: $313.76.

June 8:  Notice from Blue Cross–Blue Shield: "Payment Past Due." Go to newly launched Vermont Health Connect web site for any information that might be there: My Health Plans: "No current plans found."

June 25:  "A refund has been issued to you in the amount of $20.00."

July 16:  Notice from IRS: "Our records show that you did not file a 2014 tax return to reconcile advance payments of the Premium Tax Credit. … We received a copy of form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, issued to you by your Health Insurance Marketplace showing … You are required to file a a 2014 federal tax return with Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, to reconcile …" So it seems that filing Form 8962 with the correct information from one's own records — because the 1095-A form originally provided was obviously incorrect — instead of the updated 1095-A that came a month after the tax filing deadline (and which was still incorrect) [see May 13, above] is not recognized as a possibility, is as good as failing to file at all, and in fact nullifies the 1040 and everything as if never filed at all!

See a new report from 2016:  Vermont Health Connect: “Current wait times are 90 minutes”