Today, the Massachusetts Health Connector and the Boston Public Health Commission detailed upcoming opportunities for residents to access help and support applying for health insurance coverage starting November 15. For Massachusetts residents who are currently covered by the Health Connector plan, or were placed in temporary plans last year, the Open Enrollment period starting November 15 requires that new applications be submitted if they want insurance coverage through the Commonwealth.
The Boston Public Health Commission, as a community assistor agency, employs trained Navigators to help residents complete this process and receive insurance coverage starting in 2015. All services provided by the Mayor’s Help Line Navigators are free, confidential and available in multiple languages.
“Our number one goal this Open Enrollment is to ensure our current members are able to transition without a gap in coverage by submitting a new application. The good news is we expect to have a working online system that will make applying easier than before,” said Jean Yang, the Executive Director of the Health Connector. “We have great local help available across the state through organizations like the BPHC, which can sit down with members and help them complete an application, find out if they qualify for help paying for insurance, and pick the best plan for them and their families.”
“In Boston, we know how important it is for everyone, especially our most vulnerable residents, to have health coverage,” said Dr. Huy Nguyen, the Medical Director and Interim Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “As we move on to another year of Open Enrollment, we look to build on the success we’ve had locally in assisting over 2,500 residents with insurance applications, but also reinvigorate our efforts in spreading the word to ensure that new applications are submitted so that no one misses out on this opportunity.”
“To date our neighborhood and patients have benefited a great deal from the Health Connector,” said Charley Murphy, President and CEO of the Harvard Street Community Health Center. “Our team at Harvard Street looks forward to continuing to assist patients and residents with their coverage issues as we move forward.”
The Commonwealth’s online Marketplace will re-launch on November 15, with a new web application that will give users the opportunity to go through a start-to-finish process from application to picking a plan in the appropriate program. The new system at MAhealthconnector.org will include a shorter application, and applicants can find help from Navigators.
There are currently more than 400,000 people in Health Connector programs or temporary Medicaid coverage. To maintain coverage, members must submit new applications to ensure their coverage will continue after their current programs expire. Each program has unique deadlines that need to be followed:
Health Connector members in Qualified Health Plans must apply, pick a plan and make their payment by December 23 for coverage starting January 1, 2015;
Health Connector members in legacy Commonwealth Care or Medical Security Plan plans must apply, pick a plan and make their payment by January 23, 2015, for coverage starting February 1, 2015;
Temporary coverage members will have that coverage end in a series of three waves, based on a first-in/first-out policy. Coverage will end on January 15, 2015, for Wave 1, February 1, 2015, for Wave 2, and February 15, 2015 for Wave 3. Like Qualified Health Plan and Commonwealth Care/MSP members, temporary coverage members will be mailed color-coded notices with their end dates, but are encouraged to apply as soon as possible when Open Enrollment begins on November 15.
To raise awareness to the need to act, the Health Connector and the Commonwealth are undertaking a targeted public outreach campaign that will include direct mail and phone calls to members, a door-knocking operation targeting current members, a series of public information and enrollment events, and a public education and messaging campaign.
In August, the Health Connector named 15 Navigators across Massachusetts. Navigators will help consumers under the application process, help them determine what program and level of subsidy for which they may qualify, and help them pick the plan that best meets their needs.
In its role as a Navigator, the Boston Public Health Commission has a comprehensive outreach strategy that reaches people where they live, work, play, and pray; conducting outreach through community health centers, barbershops, the South Bay House of Corrections, and local colleges. Assisting Boston’s most vulnerable populations, including those who recently lost their jobs, immigrants, and low-income residents, is key in ensuring their strategy. Furthermore, Mayor’s Health Line Navigators speak a total of seven languages, and have access to a language line.
Press Conference today at Harvard Community Health Center in Dorchester.