Catamount enrollment falls short of expectations

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(Host) Enrollment for state-subsidized health insurance has fallen short of projections. And a consumer advocacy group says the state needs to remove barriers that stand in the way of people signing up.

According to the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, about 10,000 people have enrolled in Catamount Health or other state health programs since last November.

But Stefanie Sidortsova of V-PIRG says that falls way short of covering the 30,000 people still without health insurance.

(Sidortsova) “We do want to give the program more time. We don’t think Catamount Health by itself, the way it’s currently configured, is enough to help the state reach that target goal of making certain that 96 percent of Vermonters have health coverage by 2010.”

(Host) V-PIRG wants the state to allow anyone with pre-existing health conditions to be able to get health insurance. The state allows people with pre-existing conditions to sign up, but only until November 1st. And V-PIRG is concerned that the rising cost of Catamount health premiums could be turning people away.

Susan Besio is the state’s director of health care reform. She says the program is still a bargain.

(Besio) “There was an increase that occurred this July and we think that it’s still very affordable considering the amount someone would pay for a comprehensive policy like the Catamount health plan if they were purchasing it themselves.”

(Host) Besio says the state will launch another marketing blitz this fall to try to get more people to sign up.

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