Outreach Begins To Help People Navigate Health Care Changes
The state agency that administers the health insurance market in Massachusetts has launched an outreach effort to make people aware of changes that will be coming under the federal Affordable Care Act.
The approximately 250,000 people who have obtained health insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector will need to sign up for new plans because of federally mandated changes in benefits and subsidies that take effect January 1,2014. Health Connector Executive Director Jean Yang said the outreach is targeting a six-month open enrollment that begins October 1st.
Yang said the Affordable Care Act, which was based on the 2006 Massachusetts health reform law, will expand health insurance offerings with more carriers and coverage options. Dental insurance will be offered for the first time.
People who can’t afford health insurance now may qualify for health insurance subsidies because the federal law increases the income limit to as high as $94,000 for a family of four. More people will transition from subsidized health insurance to MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program.
About 3 percent of the state’s adults, some 150,000 people, do not currently have health insurance.
Yang said Massachusetts will receive more money from the federal government for health care programs.
The Health Connector has tapped 10 community health centers across the state to be part of the Navigator Program, which Yang said will help people find insurance coverage that meets their needs and will assist with the application process.
Caring Health Center in Springfield, which treats about 14,000 mostly low income patients a year, received $196,000 from the Health Connector to become part of the Navigator Program. Chief Operations Officer Jacqueline Johnson said the center will expand its existing patient outreach services.
The other participants in the Navigator Program in western Massachusetts are Ecu-Health Care of North Adams and Hilltown Community Health Centers of Worthington.