A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

National Health Reform is Good for Massachusetts: Meet Melissa and Tom

National Health Reform is Good for Massachusetts: Meet Melissa and Tom

February 24, 2010

Health Care for All’s Helpline hears from thousands of callers each year that don’t have health insurance because they can’t afford it. The high cost forces people to make decisions between buying food, housing, and paying their bills or purchasing health insurance to protect their families. Today we would like to share one such story with our readers.

Melissa and Tom first contacted the HelpLine in 2008 when they opened their small business. The couple has worked hard to provide for their family, and their two young children. They were delighted to find out that their entire family qualified for coverage – the parents through Commonwealth Care and the children through MassHealth – that was affordable and comprehensive.

The couple called the HelpLine again a year later for assistance filling out their yearly health insurance renewal form. They were proud to report that their new business was doing well and that they had earned $70,000 in the past year. Melissa was shocked to find out that they were now making too much to continue to qualify for the affordable coverage her family had come to depend on, as guidelines in Massachusetts allow a family of four to earn no more than $66,000 per year.

Our HelpLine Counselor explained that once a family’s income goes above the limit for subsidized care, they no longer qualify for sliding scale help and would have to look into private health insurance. They looked into the family’s options and could not believe the jump in cost. Melissa was astounded to learn that since her family earned $4000 over the limit for the year, they would have to pay $12,000 annually for their comprehensive coverage rather than $2,784 that she would pay through Commonwealth Care, had their income been just below the guidelines.

National health reform would help folks like Melissa and Tom in having access to affordable health insurance options. Thousands of Massachusetts residents call the Helpline that fall between 300% and 400% of the federal poverty level. These people struggle every month to pay their health insurance premium or have to make the hard decision of going uninsured. This should not be a choice anyone has to make and we can make a difference. We ask Congress to pass national health reform legislation now. Please call or send an email to your Representative in Washington. For assistance and information to make it easy, click here.
-Hannah Frigand