It’s been an eventful week as we all try to keep abreast of the ever-changing landscape in terms of the wide-ranging effects of the Covid-19 public health crisis. Today we want to highlight just one of the evolving policy responses: The Health Connector’s Mar 11 press release announcing that uninsured residents can apply and get coverage through a 45-day “special enrollment period” running from March 12 though April 25, and what it means for our clients and patients.
This is still new, the Health Connector website has not yet been updated and so far no detailed written guidance beyond the press release has been distributed. It also appears that people who need this special enrollment period in order to enroll can’t do it online. They will need to call the Health Connector Customer Service office at (877) MA-ENROLL ((877) 623-6765). People who need to apply can apply online at mahealthconnector.org or with in person enrollment assistance from many health care providers or community based organizations but will need to call the Health Connector at the enrollment step. And remember, another option for those told they are unable to buy individual health insurance coverage is a waiver from the Office of Patient Protections. (OPP).
Background on what this a special enrollment period is all about…
1st a reminder that people can apply for and enroll in MassHealth & Health Safety Net coverage at any time. And people “newly eligible” for ConnectorCare can also apply and enroll at any time.
However, other uninsured people wanting to buy individual health insurance after Jan. 23, 2020, can only enroll if they qualify for a special enrollment period based on a “qualifying event” like losing their job and their insurance through work, getting married, their COBRA running out, etc. or by getting a waiver from OPP.
Now uninsured people have a second chance to enroll in health insurance through the Connector for the remainder of 2020 thanks to this new “special enrollment period” based on the current public health threat. There are still deadlines, people must be found eligible, select a health plan, and pay the first month’s premium by the 23d of the month to be enrolled on the 1st of the following month, and the special enrollment period ends April 25.
One group of people this will help a lot are those who were already found eligible for ConnectorCare but missed their deadline to enroll for 2020 coverage. Since they would not be “newly eligible’ if they applied again, they were unable to enroll without a “qualifying event” or a waiver. To make matters worse, their Health Safety Net coverage also expired 90 days after the eligibility determination. Now they just need to select a health plan, and pay any premium due by the 23d for coverage on the 1st (and remember for people with income of 150% of the poverty level or less, there are plan options with no premium contribution).