BREAKING: Connector Extends Deadline For January Coverage

Connector Deadline Extension 12-23-13

The Health Connector has just extended the deadline for many people to either select a plan and make their first premium payment. The Connector’s release is here (bettermahealthconnector.org/application-deadline-extension/).

(UPDATE: See the latest enrollment Q and A with Connector spokesperson Jason Lefferts on the 12/26 WBUR Commonhealth Blog)

Headlines:

  • The new deadlines are Tuesday, December 31, to select a plan, and extended deadlines that give members additional time to make a payment.
  • For ConnectorCare members (people who receive state subsidies and federal tax credits, generally between 138% and 300% of the federal poverty level) who have completed an application and received a plan selection notice, they have until December 31 to pick a health plan. These members may not immediately be in the carrier’s system if a member contacts the carrier to check their status, but services used within the plan’s network will be covered starting January 1. ConnectorCare members will receive their first bill in January, which will request payment for both January and February premiums.
  • For Health Connector members who are receiving only federal premium tax credits as a subsidy (generally between 300% and 400% FPL), they also have until December 31 to pick a plan and pay their first month’s premium. If they need more time to pay their first month’s premium, they will be automatically enrolled in temporary coverage for the month of January, with the new plan taking effect on February 1, assuming payment is made.
  • For those who are purchasing health insurance with no financial assistance (former Commonwealth Choice), the deadline to pick a plan is December 31, with a deadline of making the first premium payment by January 10.  Coverage will not be effective until payment is received, and it may take about five business days after payment is received until the policy is reflected in the carrier’s system. However, these members will be eligible for retroactive coverage to January 1 when the payment is made and the carrier processes the enrollment. Payment by electronic fund transfer can be done only if the member takes that step immediately after plan selection. Otherwise, the member must mail a check or money order to the Health Connector, or visit the walk-in offices in Boston or Worcester.
  • Unprocessed applications seeking financial assistance will be placed in temporary coverage until the application is processed. Letters to those members will be mailed starting this week.

The Commonmwealth Fund’s David Blumenthal had a smart observation today about these deadlines slipping:

The changing dates associated with the ACA are troubling to some, since they suggest confusion and even mismanagement by the Obama administration. It would obviously be reassuring if every declared date were honored and announced rules and intentions never changed.

On the other hand, I’m doing some long-delayed repairs in my home. The contractor said the work would be done by Thanksgiving, but there were unanticipated problems. We’re hoping now for Christmas.  I’ll be happy if it’s done by mid-January, but the key thing is whether, a year from now, I’m satisfied with the result.

Health insurance is obviously way more important to millions of Americans than any home repair project could ever be. But few things in life go exactly as planned, and it would be totally astonishing if the implementation of massive reforms to a sector accounting for 20 percent of our economy rolled out without a bump or a detour.  We should keep that in mind as we think about those changing ACA deadlines.

Click on for the full detailed Connector update:

Extended deadlines for plan selection and payment for health coverage starting in January 2014

Working with the support of our health insurance carriers, the Massachusetts Health Connector has extended the deadlines for members selecting and paying for a health insurance plan with coverage starting in January 2014.

The new deadlines mean that you have until Tuesday, December 31, 2013, to select a plan and notify the Health Connector of that selection, and have extended deadlines for paying your premium.

For information about what these new deadlines mean for you, please continue reading below. We appreciate this has been a confusing time and are confident these extended deadlines will give more people the opportunity to comfortably select and pay for a plan in time for coverage in January.

Health Connector Plan (with no subsidies)

If you are purchasing insurance through the Health Connector and did not request financial assistance, you will have until Tuesday, December 31, 2013, to select the plan you would like to have for coverage starting in January 2014. You can apply, select a play and pay online through the Health Connector’s website, MAhealthconnector.org.

You can complete your plan selection online at mahealthconnector.org and submit an EFT payment at the time of plan selection online. If you have already selected a plan and need to pay, you must submit a check or money order by mail or in-person at one of our walk-in centers in Boston or Worcester. Your payment must be received by January 10, 2014.

You will not be enrolled in your health plan until you pay the first month’s premium. Once you make your first payment, it will take approximately five business days before you are reflected in the carrier’s system. If your payment is not received in time for your policy to be reflected by the carrier on January 1, you will be eligible for retroactive coverage through the plan. This means that if you use covered services between January 1 and when your payment is processed, the health insurance carrier will cover those services. However, your coverage will not begin under any circumstances until your premium payment is received, so please pay your premium as soon as possible

NOTE: For those who are applying through the Health Connector website (MAhealthconnector.org), existing language will say the deadline for payment is December 27. Disregard that language, with the new January 10 deadline in place.

ConnectorCare Members

If you are purchasing coverage through the Health Connector and receiving help paying for that insurance, you have until Tuesday, December 31, 2013, to select the plan you would like to have for coverage starting in January 2014. You will receive your first bill next month, which will include a request for payment for your January and February premiums.

Depending on when you notify the Health Connector of your plan selection, you will likely not appear in your carrier’s system until sometime in early January, perhaps as late as January 10, and your carrier will not see your name or your plan when they check your status in their system. However, your carrier will cover services that are covered by your plan, and are offered by a provider in the health plan’s network.

If you have already completed an application and received a plan selection notice from the Health Connector, you can complete your plan selection process by calling the Health Connector’s customer service center at 877-623-6765. If you have not started an application, you should visit the Health Connector’s website at MAhealthconnector.org to do so. The Health Connector will continue to process new and existing applications.

Health Connector Plan with Premium Tax Credits

If you are purchasing coverage through the Health Connector and receiving help paying for that coverage through the federal tax credit, you will have until Tuesday, December 31, 2013, to select the plan you would like to have for coverage starting in January 2014.

You will not be covered in that plan unless you submit payment to the Health Connector. You must select a plan and pay the premium by December 31, 2013. If you need more time to pay your first month’s premium, please contact us at 877-623-6765 for assistance.

If you have already completed an application and received a plan notification notice from the Health Connector, you can complete your plan selection process by calling the Health Connector’s customer service center at 877-623-6765. If you have not started an application, you should visit the Health Connector’s website at MAhealthconnector.org to do so. The Health Connector will continue to process new and existing applications.

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