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Connector Board Meeting Notes: Preparing for Open Enrollment 2017, Sharing Updates on Student Health Insurance Policies

Connector Board Meeting Notes: Preparing for Open Enrollment 2017, Sharing Updates on Student Health Insurance Policies

June 14, 2016

On Thursday, the Connector Board met to discuss Health Connector open enrollment operational readiness, outreach and messaging efforts, and the Student Health Insurance Program. Materials from the meeting are posted here

Executive Director’s Report
First, Louis Gutierrez, the Executive Director of the Health Connector, shared some updates:

  • Massachusetts received approval from CMS to maintain small-group rating practices.
  • The Health Connector plans to transition the market-wide risk adjustment program they had been administering to CMS beginning in 2018 (for plan year 2017).
  • The Health Connector is entering into a contract with Dell (which will be acquired by Japanese firm NTT) to modernize their customer relations management system.
  • The Health Connector is looking at metrics to evaluate the impact of their upcoming outreach efforts to reach the uninsured.
  • Health Connector enrollment as of June 1, 2016:
    • Total non-group medical: 223,778
    • Unsubsidized and APTC: 52,503
    • ConnectorCare: 171,275
    • Non-group dental: 59,471
    • Small group medical : 5,922
    • Small group dental: 831

2017 Open Enrollment Preparations 
Based on Department of Revenue tax-filing data,  the remaining uninsured people in the state (approximately 3.6%, or 240,000 residents)  are almost evenly divided between chronically uninsured and temporarily uninsured; evidence shows that Hispanics are the most likely population to remain chronically uninsured, both in Massachusetts and nationally. Connector Board and staff members spent a good portion of the meeting discussing how to best target the remaining uninsured.

In preparation for the next open enrollment period, which begins in November, the Connector Board approved a contract with Dell, who provides customer service for the Connector, to re-launch temporary walk-in centers throughout the Commonwealth for the 2017 open enrollment period. These walk-in centers complement the permanent walk-in centers in place in Boston, Worcester, and Springfield. During the 2016 open enrollment period, the “pop-up” walk-in centers – co-located with community health centers – served 15,000 consumers, helping with issues that only customer service can address, such as billing and payment.

The Connector Board also approved outreach and marketing contracts with Weber Shandwick and Archipelago Strategies Group, to conduct outreach and media campaigns to better reach the remaining uninsured.  Weber Shandwick will conduct general outreach and marketing, while Archipelago will focus on ethnic outreach and media. 

Student Health Insurance Program
Lastly, the Board discussed the Student Health Insurance program (SHIP). Since 1989, all students in the Commonwealth have been required to have health insurance, and each school is required to offer a SHIP. Students are able to waive the coverage if they have comparable coverage elsewhere, such as a parents’ employer plan or, since the passage of the ACA, MassHealth. Since the passage of the ACA, fewer students have been enrolling in SHIPs, in large part likely due to newly-gained access to MassHealth. In an effort to keep premiums in SHIP plans reasonable, and retain access to MassHealth, the Commonwealth has begun a pilot program to enroll MassHealth students into Premium Assistance. Like other MassHealth Premium Assistance programs, students enroll in their private plan (in the case, the school’s SHIP), and MassHealth helps them pay for their premiums and cost-sharing. MassHealth plans to roll this out to all full-time college students receiving MassHealth coverage in coming months and years.

The next Connector Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 14th from 2-4pm at 1 Ashburton Place, 21st floor, Boston. 

- Sara O’Brien