A Healthy Blog

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

Unemployed? Health Insurance Options Are Available

Unemployed? Health Insurance Options Are Available

April 1, 2009

Are you recently unemployed and looking for your health insurance options? Do you help recently jobless folks apply for health insurance? If you answered yes or just want clarity on health insurance options available to unemployed folks in the state -- this week we launched an unemployment resource just for you!

We developed this FAQ, at www.hcfama.org/unemployment after a meeting last Friday with directors of the Medical Security Program. The Medical Security Program is a one-of-a-kind program found only in Massachusetts that helps unemployment recipients afford their COBRA (continuation of health insurance after employment ends) payments or offers direct health insurance coverage to those who don’t have the option for COBRA or can’t afford it.

More info on MSP can be found at www.mass.gov/dua/msp.

Key points from the meeting:

  • The Medical Security Program is not administering the federal 65% premium subsidy COBRA program. Instead, the Federal government is in charge of notifying employers and then employers must notify eligible former employees of their second chance to elect COBRA. Eligible employees then have 60 days to elect COBRA and 45 days to pay the premium. MSP will then reimburse the person for 8-% of their cost, leaving only 7% of the COBRA for the claimant to pay.
  • Anyone who is currently on direct coverage through the Medical Security Program will be able to switch to premium assistance. The MSP is working on a mailing to people currently in direct coverage that may now be able to afford COBRA. In order to make this change, the claimant needs to request a plan change through the MSP and submit a photocopy of their COBRA letter.
  • MSP premium assistance covers both health and dental coverage as long as the health and dental coverage is billed together. MSP will not just reimburse for dental coverage.
  • The current application volume is very high. They have 10 full time temps working on MSP applications. They receive 50 –150 faxes per day. There are 1500 applications a week and they are processing around 5000 a month.

The Medical Security Program is one more example of a unique and innovative program that helps folks living in Massachussetts have access to affordable, quality health care. We thank them for their hard work and taking the time to meet with advocates so that we can all better navigate the system.

As always, please contact HCFA’s Helpline if you have any questions about your health care options. We can be reached at 1-800-272-4232, Monday – Friday, 9:00am-6:30pm. Our expert counselors speak English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Kate Bicego