Updates on the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): Will National Health Reform Change Massachusetts Health Insurance Coverage?
By Cathy Hickey, Project Coordinator, MA Family to Family Health Information Center at FCSN
There is much in the news about the new national health reform efforts. But most Massachusetts families will not see changes right away. Massachusetts already has many of the consumer protections that will now be in federal law. Coverage will not change for adults with disabilities or for children who are not eligible for MassHealth Standard based on income. In fact, Massachusetts residents will find more options, enhanced benefits, and savings for individuals and families, as well as small businesses at the Massachusetts Health Connector (www.MAhealthconnector.org).
The Commonhealth program will remain available to all children with special health care needs. Some changes that will be coming are:
- On October 1, 2013, Massachusetts’ Health Connector will be launching a new website at the start of the new national open enrollment period: www.MAhealthconnector.org.
- Massachusetts residents will benefit from expanded funding for community health centers, assistance with prescription drug costs for seniors, and tax credits for small employers.
- Beginning October 1, through the Health Connector website (www.MAhealthconnector.org) individuals and families will be able to find out right away whether they qualify for different programs and subsidies that make health insurance more affordable.
- Beginning October 1, 2013, new income limits will go into effect. For example today, an individual with a yearly income of approximately $34,000 does not qualify for a public subsidy for insurance premiums (which means the state pays a portion of the premium). However in 2014, the limit will be approximately $46,000. Today, a family of four with a yearly income of more than approximately $70,000 does not qualify for a public subsidy for insurance. In 2014, the limit will be approximately $94,000.
- Coverage through Commonwealth Care will be the same through the end of this year with no changes to the rules or benefits. However, starting on October 1, 2013 Commonwealth Care members who will not be transferred to MassHealth (because they are income eligible) will need to take part in the Federal Open Enrollment process to make sure they have affordable coverage in place for January 1, 2014.
- For current members of Commonwealth Care, MassHealth programs, and for people receiving services paid for by the Health Safety Net, eligibility information already in these systems will be used to move people into their new Masshealth benefit plan and send them a notice if they are eligible for new Medicaid programs.
Starting in 2014, people with incomes of up to 400% of the federal poverty level will qualify for new federal tax breaks or subsidies for insurance. If you are an individual earning up to approximately $43,000 or a family of four earning up to $88,000 a year, you may qualify for assistance starting in 2014. www.bettermahealthconnector.org
Whether you are a current or prospective member, there are many important changes happening this year. The website, www.bettermahealthconnector.org will be updated frequently, so check often or sign up for updates.
For any questions, call Customer Service at 1-877-MA-ENROLL (1-877-623-6765) or contact the MA F2F Health Info Center at MassFV@fcsn.org or call 1-800-331-0688,