By Lisa Loomis

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Vermont vice president for external communications Kevin Goddard reported this afternoon that the company has changed its policy on insurance plan choice for Vermont's small businesses.

On Friday, January 17, Goddard told The Valley Reporter that businesses enrolling at least two employees would now be able to choose up to two different plans. This is a change from BCBS's previous position of allowing the choice of two plans only for those businesses enrolling 5 to 24 employees in the Vermont Health Care Exchange.

Companies enrolling one to four employees in the exchange were previously limited to one plan per company.

On Tuesday, January 14, Vermont Health Connect announced that the state's small businesses that had had their 2013 insurance plans extended until March 30 would now have to enroll directly with BCBS or MVP.

That announcement failed to note the BCBS restriction of choice for the state's smallest employers. That lack of choice was affirmed by Goddard on January 15 and by Robin Lunge, Vermont director of the health care transition, who called it "disappointing."

The Valley Reporter raised the issue with Lunge, Goddard, the Vermont ACLU, Michael Donofrio, legal counsel for the Green Mountain Care Board, state representative Adam Greshin, and others.

Goddard said he and other company officials met this afternoon and changed the policy.

"We appreciate you bringing this to our attention," Goddard said.