A Healthy Blog

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

Private Market

Window opens for individuals and families to buy or change health plans

The first annual six-week open enrollment period to purchase individual health insurance has begun. Until August 15, Massachusetts residents who either want to purchase individual or family health insurance coverage or want to switch their existing coverage will be able to do so will be able to do so via the Health Connector, or directly from health plans. After August 15, under a new state law, the window of opportunity shuts. Read more »

A "Commonwealth Conversation" about ... health databases

A productive blog conversation is going on now about something fairly wonky, but fairly important. We've blogged before about the state's "All Payer Claims Database (APCD)." The DHCFP database, which will collect health transactions from every possible source in the state, will allow policymaker and researchers to dig into the details of health care costs and utilization in Massachusetts. We think it's critical that the state make the data available as much as possible to all interested persons, with appropriate privacy protections to assure patients that personal information will be not... Read more »

And We’re Off!: Joint Committee on Financial Services Holds Informational Hearing for 2011-2012 Session

Following in their tradition, the Joint Committee on Financial Services (with jurisdiction over banking and insurance) held an informational hearing today for stakeholders. The tone of the hearing was jovial with many laughs – honest financial services can be funny- had by all in the familiar group. The hearing started off with a briefing from the Commissioner of Banks, followed by Joseph Murphy, Commissioner of Insurance. Commissioner Murphy introduced the Committee to the Division and its breadth including the revenue they generate for the state as a regulator. On the policy side, his... Read more »

Full Plate at DOI

Last summer's Chapter 288, the small business and individual health insurance cost containment law, imposed a truckload of new regulatory duties on the Division of Insurance (DOI). DOI is now in the final stages of its implementation efforts, with lots of hearing on tap. Last Monday, the DOI held a hearing on small group rate filings, rate adjustment factors, and eligibility and open enrollment for individuals (proposed regulations (pdf)). There will be four more hearings coming up on Chapter 288 regulations: Read more »

Who Can Buy Insurance Now - The Rules

If you need individual insurance, the open enrollment period during which anyone can purchase coverage is over. The enrollment periods only applies to people who buy private health insurance coverage for themselves individually or for their families. It does not apply for those who get health insurance through work, school, or a government insurer such as Medicare, Commonwealth Care or MassHealth. From now on, the annual open enrollment period for individuals to purchase insurance will be between July 1st and August 15th. Until then, the individual insurance market is in a closed enrollment... Read more »

Students Win Big on Health Plans

Classroom groans, agonizing waiver forms, and the palpable resentment that boils over while glaring at the health plan fact sheet – these are the frustrations of students every fall semester when signing up for health insurance. But now there is a reason to cheer. On February 10th, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that consumer protections for individual plans in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be extended to student health plans (see details and analysis on the Health Affairs blog). This represents a major win for students and their families to receive... Read more »

The Gates Are Closing: Not Much Time Left To Buy Individual Insurance

If you need individual insurance, be aware that Massachusetts will close its new limited open enrollment period on February 15th. The limited open enrollment is a restriction that only applies to people who buy private health insurance coverage for themselves individually or for their families. It doesn’t apply if one gets insurance through work, through school, or through a government insurer such as Medicare, Commonwealth Care or MassHealth. After February 15th, individuals will only be able to buy private health insurance during the Open Enrollment Period each year. The Open... Read more »

OPP Looks At Open Enrollment Waivers

The Office of Patient Protection held a public hearing today to discuss their draft regulations of the open enrollment waiver process (see the regulations). Read more »

Hearing Monday On "Open Enrollment" Waiver Regulations

Last August's health insurance law included an "open enrollment" provision, although a more helpful name for most people would be calling it the "closed enrollment" provision. The provision closes the individual insurance market except during specified periods of the year. For 2011, individuals can by health insurance from January 1 through February 15, and again from July 1 through August 15. Starting in 2012, the market will be closed except for one open enrollment period from July 1 through August 15. This is a major change from previous Massachusetts law, which had allowed individuals to... Read more »

Not A Crisis - Yet: Individual Insurance Enrollment Closed For Now

Chapter 288 of the Acts of 2010, the small business and individual cost containment law, makes a dramatic change in state insurance law. Until now, Massachusetts had "continuous open enrollment," meaning individuals could enroll at any time. Insurers complained that people were gaming the system, by signing up for short-term coverage only when they needed expensive treatment. The Division of Insurance studied the issue, and concluded this summer that this short-term use resulted in a 1%-2% increase in premiums for the entire merged market. Read more »

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