A Better Massachusetts Health Connector

National health care reform (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or the ACA) is a major step forward toward making health insurance more accessible and affordable for people in the United States. Here in Massachusetts, which laid the groundwork for national health reform, the new national law strengthens and even expands upon the health care improvements that Massachusetts residents have enjoyed since health reform was implemented here in 2006.

 

Massachusetts: The model for national health reform

Massachusetts led the nation in 2006 by initiating comprehensive health reform. The state established the Massachusetts Health Connector, a Marketplace designed to make affordable health insurance available to more people. Currently, 250,000 Massachusetts residents are enrolled in health insurance through the Health Connector, helping our state to achieve the highest rate of health insurance coverage in the country.

The Health Connector: a new experience

Because of national health reform, Massachusetts residents can now find even more options, enhanced benefits, and savings for individuals, families, and small businesses at the Health Connector.

On Oct. 1, we launched our all-new website at the start of the new national open enrollment period. National health reform expands health insurance programs that are already in place and working well in Massachusetts. Residents will also benefit from expanded funding for community health centers, assistance with prescription drug costs for seniors, and tax credits for small employers.

Beginning Oct. 1 and through March 31, 2014, through the Health Connector website — MAhealthconnector.org — individuals and families are able to find out whether they qualify for different programs and subsidies that make health insurance more affordable. New tools and features will be available to help make the right choices for you, your family or your small business.

How does national health reform help individuals and families?

Federal funding for our state’s subsidized health insurance programs will increase by nearly $5 billion between 2014 and 2020. Also in 2014, individuals making up to roughly $46,000 per year and a family of four making up to roughly $94,000 per year may be eligible for new federal tax subsidies to help pay for health insurance. In addition, individuals making up to roughly $34,500 per year or a family of four making up to roughly $70,500 per year may be eligible for even more state and federal subsidies through special health plans offered by the Health Connector called ConnectorCare plans, which will offer premiums, cost-sharing and benefits similar to Commonwealth Care.

 Read more in Individuals & Families Frequently Asked Questions

How does national health reform help small business owners?

In 2014, employers with 25 or fewer employees and average annual wages of less than $50,000 per employee can qualify for tax credits. They must contribute at least 50 percent toward the premium for a health plan for their employees and purchase their company’s coverage through the Health Connector to be eligible for this tax credit. The credit can be for up to 50 percent of the employer’s contributions towards coverage.

This tax credit has also been available from 2010 through 2013, for employers purchasing coverage inside and outside of the Health Connector — but this tax credit only offset up to 35 percent of the employer’s contribution, depending on the company’s size and average annual wage.

In addition, under the ACA the Health Connector offers “one-stop” shopping for medical and dental coverage for small businesses. Later in 2014, the Health Connector will offer small businesses new ways to offer health insurance to their employees, including options that allow the business to offer a number of plans to employees.

 Read more in Small Businesses Frequently Asked Questions

The Health Connector is your trusted source for up-to-date information

If you have any questions about the changes coming as a result of national health reform or need objective, timely, and consumer-friendly information, visit MAhealthconnector.org or call 1-877 MA-ENROLL (1-877-623-6765) or TTY 1-877-623-7773 to learn more. We’re here Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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