February 4, 2021 – Open enrollment is the time of year that individuals who need to purchase individual or family health insurance plans can shop for coverage on the Health Connector. Typically, the Health Connector’s open enrollment period takes place between November 1 and January 23. The Massachusetts Health Connector has extended the annual open enrollment period to apply for health insurance until May 23rd in recognition of the pandemic and the economic impact families are facing. The only time individuals can purchase coverage on the Health Connector outside of the open enrollment period is when individuals experience a “qualifying life event.” Qualifying life events include losing a job, getting married, or moving. That means it is really important for individuals who need health insurance to assess their situation during this time of year.
It is also important to note that people who qualify for ConnectorCare (subsidized coverage), MassHealth (Medicaid), and Health Safety Net programs based on their income are able to apply at any time during the year. Open enrollment does not apply to these individuals.
Some other important points to know:
- Open enrollment is the time of year when current Health Connector members can switch plans without a justifiable reason.
- If Health Connector members do not take action during open enrollment, their coverage stays the same if their plan is still available or they are moved to another plan that is the most similar plan for the next year.
- For people getting assistance paying for coverage, it is important to keep their information up-to-date in their Health Connector online account to ensure they are getting the correct amount of subsidies. When individuals experience a change, it is important to change their information with the Health Connector or MassHealth. Change of address, household members, income, disability status and access to health insurance should be reported and updated at the earliest convenience.
On Health Care For All’s HelpLine, we are hearing from many consumers who have lost a job and their health insurance, and they are looking to find an affordable option for them and their family. Many are offered the option from their former employer to keep the same private insurance through the COBRA program and do not know if they should take it. Our HelpLine can help people in determining their options through the Health Connector and MassHealth and make a decision based on their family’s needs. One important thing for people to note about this situation is if they take COBRA, they will not be able to switch to a Health Connector plan outside of open enrollment because they will no longer have what is considered a “qualifying life event.”
If you or someone you know is uninsured or has questions about health insurance options, please give our HelpLine a call!
The Health Care For All HelpLine is available Monday through Thursday between 7 – 5, and Friday between 8 – 3 at 1-800-272-4232. Assistance is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.