BOSTON – December 31, 2014 – More than 50,000 people will have new health insurance coverage starting Jan. 1 through the Massachusetts Health Connector, and the Commonwealth is prepared to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible for consumers obtaining their new coverage. Additionally, nearly 140,000 people have been enrolled in MassHealth since Nov. 15, 2014.
The health plan’s process of enrolling members into new coverage and delivering an ID card to a member can take 10-14 days, which means many of the people who paid their first month’s premium near the Dec. 28 deadline will not have identification cards in hand on Jan. 1. Their coverage takes effect on that date, however, and the Commonwealth is working with health plans, providers, pharmacies and community organizations to ensure members know they have coverage, and provide guidance on how to work with their health plan to obtain services before they get an ID card.
“In the first six weeks of Open Enrollment, nearly 140,000 people signed up for MassHealth, and more than 50,000 selected and paid for a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) through the Health Connector. That’s a very good start and brings us closer to our goal of seeing everyone in Massachusetts who needs insurance use the new system to access it,” said Maydad Cohen, Special Assistant to Governor Patrick. “We are going to spend the next week making sure that those who are in these QHP plans know the best way to access their coverage starting tomorrow, even if they don’t have an ID card yet.”
Within 24 hours of a member paying for a plan, the Health Connector sends enrollment information to the health plan. Health plans need up to five business days to process the enrollment information and get an ID card in the mail. This means for some members, it can take 10-14 days after making a payment for an ID card to arrive. In an effort to give consumers as much time as possible to pay for a plan, the Health Connector and health plans set a payment deadline of Dec. 28, which means many of those who paid in late December are confirmed to have coverage starting Jan. 1, but will not have an ID card this week.
“We are working very closely with carriers and providers to ensure everyone who has coverage starting Jan. 1 has access to their benefits,” said Jean Yang, the Executive Director of the Health Connector. “This is largely standard practice in the marketplace, and we want to make the extra effort to make sure members are aware of the forms and processes health plans have in place to support members’ ability to obtain services, even if they do not yet have an ID card.”
It is common practice for consumers to receive their ID cards after the starting date of coverage, and health plans have processes in place to support members before they have their ID cards. Because so many members are starting new coverage on Jan. 1, the Health Connector and the Commonwealth have taken a number of extra steps to ensure members are given as much information as possible, and are reassured they have health insurance starting Jan. 1. These steps include:
- An email to members confirming that they have coverage starting Jan. 1, even if they do not have an ID card;
- A page on MAhealthconnector.org detailing for members their health plan’s process for accessing services without an ID card (that page can be accessed here);
- A customer-service friendly list sent to each carrier from the Health Connector of members who paid near the deadline and may not be entered into a health plan’s system in time for Jan. 1, so health plans and their customer service centers have easily accessible information on new members; and
- A Frequently Asked Questions tip sheet that will be sent to pharmacies and other providers to offer information and direction to pharmacists and others who may be working with members that have not yet received their ID cards.