- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Nearly 27,000 Vermonters so far have confirmed they’ve obtained insurance plans through Vermont Health Connect during the open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.

Of those, 22,725 are receiving some form of financial help, such as qualifying for premium tax credits, and 1,335 were either new enrollees or people who had previous coverage and had unenrolled, Sean Sheehan, spokesman for the Vermont Department of Health Access, said Wednesday.

The open enrollment period is shorter than previous periods and runs through Friday. Residents who don’t sign up in time may not be able to get coverage until before 2019, Sheehan said, although there are exceptions.

But it appears that word has gotten out about the approaching deadline. Residents’ use of the Vermont Health Connect price comparison tool is up 40 percent, Sheehan said.

“Use of the tool is up so significantly (it) is a good sign that people really are doing their homework and investigating what’s going to be the best plan for their family’s budget before the deadline,” he said.

Residents have until 8 p.m. Friday to enroll by phone and until 11:59 p.m. to enroll online.

The number of people who have confirmed their insurance plans is a bit lower than nearly a year ago when 28,000 people enrolled through the online exchange in early 2017. Sheehan said he expected to see a slight decrease as some people move to get their coverage directly from the insurance carriers.

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