Some Massachusetts Health Connector members may have received notices that they could lose their insurance subsidies unless they update their income information.
But updating that information is fairly easy to do, says William Cruz, senior patient navigator at Community Health Programs Berkshires. Cruz recommends that anyone who has received such a communication reach out to CHP’s patient navigators or others who provide help with the application process.
“Losing their coverage is to me not an option,” Cruz said. “They have better options. They can reach out, reapply and make sure their information is accurate, and I’m pretty sure we can get them something.”
Massachusetts established the Health Connector to implement a 2006 health care law and seeks to provide subsidies to people who do not receive affordable health insurance through an employer. People are eligible if they do not have employer-based insurance or if their employer-based insurance requires them to pay more than 9.83 percent of household income, the federal Affordable Care Act threshold.
After people apply, they are approved either for MassHealth or the Health Connector. Those who do not qualify for MassHealth are approved for the Health Connector.
When thousands of Berkshire County residents lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, many of them lost health insurance, too.
Each year, some Health Connector members receive notices that they must update their income information, Cruz said. He believes slightly more people may be receiving notices this year due to changes in income related to the pandemic. If, for example, somebody moved from an old job — or unemployment insurance — to a new one, that person would need to reflect the change.
This year, more than 130,000 people in Massachusetts must update their income information to keep the subsidies, Louis Gutierrez, executive director of the Health Connector agency, told the State House News Service. That’s around 60 percent of all members, up from 20 to 25 percent in a typical year.
The agency plans to draw attention to the topic through social media and through public open enrollment events, Gutierrez said. On top of the five previously planned communications to members who need to update their accounts, the agency has planned two additional attempts in September and December.
CHP began sending letters to members last month.
“Open enrollment begins Nov. 1, but we’ll be in touch with them before then,” Cruz said.
“We’ll be very busy from November on,” he said, so his advice to members is “don’t wait” to reach out if they fear losing coverage.
This report includes material from State House News Service.