In one sense, the posting of the rates will be purely symbolic, but it's a process that is due to repeated in every state, in one form or another, by the end of the year, said Andy Hyman, a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who follows health care changes.
"This crystalizes the reality of health reform because people are now going to be able to see it in a much more tangible way, and that has been a challenge since the day the president signed the legislation" in 2010, said Hyman.
"It had been much more in theory and with each milestone — and this is a big milestone — people will get a more clear glimpse of the reality of it and begin to see the benefits of it," Hyman said.
One of the signatures of the health care overhaul, the exchanges aim to offer easy-to-understand, side-by-side comparisons of each plan's costs and benefits. Vermonters who work in places with 50 or fewer employees and individuals and families who don't get employer-sponsored health insurance will be invited to sign up for insurance coverage. All the plans will offer such basic services as checkups, emergency care, mental health services and prescriptions.
By the end of the year, people across the country without traditional health insurance will be able to sign up for coverage through state-sponsored exchanges including Vermont's, to be known as Vermont Health Connect, or, in states that choose not to set up their own exchange, through one set up by the federal government.
While states that fought the federal health care overhaul efforts got a lot of attention, Vermont embraced it from the outset and hopes to go further. The state is in the process of setting up what would become the nation's first single payer health care system, due to be implemented in 2017.
The rates offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield and MVP Health will be reviewed by the Department of Financial Regulation before a final approval by the Green Mountain Care Board.