Not to beat a dead horse, or to suggest that Vermont's health care exchange is either a) dead or b) worthy of being beaten, but there are some serious issues with the program beyond the logistical issues of website crashing and people resorting to paper applications to sign up.
Recall that businesses with more than 50 employees are exempt; all of Vermont's state employees are exempt as well as all school staff and other personnel, supervisory union personnel and all college and university personnel. Small businesses that currently provide health insurance that is considered affordable are encouraged to continue to do so or be penalized by the state.
The Valley's state representative Adam Greshin was asked to provide some numbers about who is exempt from the exchange and how many people were expected to be in the exchange when the program was created. He reached out to Robin Lunge in the governor's office for more details and Lunge provided some scary specifics.
According to the 2014 projected enrollment, if the state's uninsured rate falls from about 7 percent to 4 percent the state expects to see 58,515 people (who had no insurance through a job) join the exchange, along with 36,487 people from small businesses that have provided affordable health care and 159,191 Medicaid beneficiaries.
Let's look for a minute at the number of people being forced into the exchange because their employer provides insurance – 36,487 people from a state with a population of 628,780.
How can that be right and how can that be fair? Vermont is comprised mostly of small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Those small businesses that currently do provide health care and their employees are essentially being forced into the exchange.
Lunge provided a link to the state's website where future enrollment figures and other information was available. In 2012, 347,826 Vermonters were insured privately or through their employer. Another 178,339 were insured through VHAP, Catamount or Medicaid. Medicare recipients accounted for 108,395, 14,100 had military insurance and there were 44,568 uninsured.
There were 584,212 Vermonters with insurance and 44,568 without it in 2012. Projected exchange enrollment figures for 2014 range from 254,193 to 266,628.
That's roughly 400,000 Vermonters who are exempt. That's not fair to those who must use the exchange.