FAQs on the New Health Reform Law
What is the goal of the new law?
Access to health care is a basic human need. Massachusetts became the first state to put in place a practical plan to expand affordable health care when it passed comprehensive health reform in 2006.
Why is this law important?
Almost one out of ten adults in Massachusetts go without health insurance coverage. The cost of health insurance in Massachusetts has been rising for many years. The annual increase is a drag on businesses and is hurting our economy. Unless we begin to solve our health care problems now, they will only grow more serious over time.
The escalating cost of health care is in part because too many people don’t have health insurance and get their medical care at the emergency room, where the costs are the highest. By moving towards near universal health coverage individuals and families will be able to see a doctor on a regular basis and have access to preventive care. This means people will get the care they need when they need it, and hopefully before it’s reached a crisis point.
What are the primary features of this new law?
The new law will:
- Provide low income people with incomes slightly above or below the poverty level health insurance for free.
- For low and moderate-income people with no source of coverage, health insurance will be available on a sliding scale basis.
- Set up the Connector - a new source for coverage with different choices of affordable health insurance plans for individuals and their families.
- Require adults who do not have health insurance to get coverage if affordable coverage is available. Adults who do not qualify for free or subsidized health insurance or a waiver must pay a penalty.
- Require all employers — except for very small businesses – to offer their employees health insurance and pay a fair share of the cost, or else pay a penalty.
How does the law make affordable health insurance choices available to the public?
The law requires health insurance companies to offer reduced-cost coverage plans through the Commonwealth Connector. You can contact the health plans directly or call the Commonwealth Connector at: 1-877-MA-ENROLL (1-877-623-6765) or visit www.mahealthconnector.org for more information.
If your employer offers coverage, but you can't afford it, you and your employer may be eligible for assistance through the Insurance Partnership. The Insurance Partnership helps uninsured employers and employees pay for company-sponsored health insurance. For more information, visit www.insurancepartnership.org or call 800-399-8285.
At what income levels does an individual or a family qualify for assistance in paying for health insurance?
An individual with an income of around $30,000 or less and a family of four with an income of up to about $60,000 can receive help from the state. The assistance is on a sliding scale so individuals and families with lower incomes pay less for health insurance. Families and individuals with incomes slightly above or below the poverty level will receive health insurance for free.
Where can I get more information?
The following links contain detailed information about the law:
The Commonwealth Care Health Insurance Program
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation
Health Care for All
WBUR CommonHealth Blog
Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute