Vermont, one of states with lowest uninsured rates, sees out-of-pocket costs climb

While Vermont's uninsured rate is one of the lowest in the country at 3 percent, the number of residents who are underinsured is increasing, according to a state analysis.

The 2018 Vermont Household Health Insurance Survey from the Vermont Department of Health is conducted every few years to get a sense of how residents interact with healthcare, health insurance coverage, physicians and medical decisions. The survey, administered for the department by research company Market Decisions, includes responses from 3,000 households representing more than 7,000 residents.

The report found more insured Vermonters are facing significant deductibles, out-of-pocket costs or other medical expenses despite an increase in coverage. As a result, 37 percent of insured residents under age 65 are considered underinsured. Of residents with private health plans, 40 percent are considered underinsured, compared to 27 percent in 2014.

At the same time, fewer Vermont residents are facing problems with paying medical bills than recorded in previous surveys.

"The survey data shows a significant reduction in the number of uninsured Vermonters and a reassuring drop in the number of Vermonters facing debilitating healthcare bills," Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, said in a news release. "Nonetheless, we must continue to work as a state to rein in healthcare costs. Affordability is essential to timely access, and access is essential to public health."

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