Vermont Paid $170 Million for Healthcare Exchange to Insure 40,000 People

Christine Rousselle,

 Vermont, the first U.S. state to pass a law to implement single-payer, taxpayer-funded health insurance, has paid $170 million for its healthcare exchange website that does not work—and it only had to enroll 40,000 people.

healthcaresite_small Vermont Paid $170 Million for Healthcare Exchange to Insure 40,000 People

Vermont’s exchange, healthconnect.vermont.gov, is nearly entirely non-functional, and the vast majority of prospective customers have found themselves unable to actually purchase the insurance plan they selected. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin assured Vermonters that the site would be functional on Nov. 1, but as of today, Nov. 3, the only thing on the website is an error message.

The population of Vermont is approximately 626,000 people. Of these 626,000, roughly 42,000 lack health insurance. If Vermont had divided up the amount used to fund the non-functional exchange equally amongst all uninsured Vermont residents, the state could have doled out roughly $4,000 per person.

The failure of the Vermont exchange could have dire consequences for thousands of Vermont families. Due to state law designed to increase enrollment in the exchange, individuals or employers that employ fewer than 50 people cannot legally purchase private insurance after January 1, 2014, and they must enroll in the exchange. Their previous plans also evaporate on the first of the year. Vermont residents who work for small businesses were never given the “if you like your plan, you can keep it” promise–and with a broken exchange, they could easily be without insurance coverage through no fault of their own in less than two months.

Let’s hope this healthcare (Ver)monstrosity is not a sign of things to come for the other 49 states.

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No Surprise Here: HealthCare.gov Closed for the Night

 Not that anyone is clamoring to sign up, but the Health Insurance Marketplace closed yet again for extended maintenance from Saturday night through Sunday morning.

The technical train-wreck of a website has closed several times since opening Oct. 1.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised that the healthcare website would soon be running smoothly with the help of a “tech surge.” The Obama administration vowed November 30 would mark the repair deadline.

“The HealthCare.gov tech team is performing extended maintenance this weekend to improve network infrastructure and make enhancements to the online application and enrollment tools,” Joanne Peters, HHS spokesperson, said Saturday.

Healthcare.gov posted the following explanation:

“The Health Insurance Marketplace online application won’t be available from around 9 p.m. EST Saturday, November 2 to 9 a.m. Sunday, November 3 while we make improvements. The rest of the site and the Marketplace call center remain available during these hours.”

It’s just a pity the Obama administration doesn’t put the website to bed permanently.