Health Connector Prepares to Create New Opportunities for Additional Choice, Benefits and Subsidies through the Affordable Care Act

BOSTON – Thursday, September 12, 2013 – The Health Connector’s Board of Directors voted today to award the “Seal of Approval” for 10 health and five dental benefit plans to be offered through the Health Connector beginning in October 2013 for coverage effective in January 2014. These plans will offer consumers more choice, more value and more savings opportunities.

“The plans approved today by the Health Connector provide consumers with a diverse set of health and dental products from the Commonwealth’s leading insurers,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor, who chairs the Health Connector Board. “With these new products and the tools available under the Affordable Care Act, the Health Connector will be better-positioned than ever to make it easy for consumers and small employers to find health and dental coverage that meets their needs.”

For coverage effective in 2014, the Health Connector shelf will include 114 medical plan options as well as, for the first time, 24 dental plans, tiered-copay plans and expanded small group options. With today’s vote, all nine health insurers currently participating in Health Connector programs plus one new entrant – Minuteman Health – were given Seal of Approval. The Seal of Approval plans have base rates that are nationally competitive, with the average base rate increase for 2014 held at only 1.9 percent.

“Today’s vote is a significant step in our preparation for the implementation of federal health care reform,” said Jean Yang, Executive Director of the Health Connector. “On top of a strengthened shelf of standardized products that promotes apples-to-apples plan comparison, our request for more diverse products builds upon our recent efforts to offer greater choice of non-standardized products and innovative network designs.”

The Health Connector also announced the selection of seven carriers to offer its new “ConnectorCare” program, a state financial assistance program designed to replicate the successful Commonwealth Care program by building upon subsidies made available under the ACA. These ConnectorCare plans will offer residents earning at or below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level a diverse set of health plan options with affordable premiums and low out-of-pocket expenses. The underlying cost to the state will be comparable to the Commonwealth Care program, particularly with the influx of hundreds of millions of federal dollars each year to help the state pay for health insurance for its lowest income residents.

The Health Connector is undertaking a comprehensive effort to educate, inform and assist consumers as they enroll in an ACA-compliant plan during the open enrollment period from October 1, 2013 through April 1, 2014. This outreach includes support from 10 local community groups selected as “Navigators” that will help local residents find insurance, as well as a partnership with Health Care for All that will also help in education efforts, ongoing training with brokers and Certified Application Counselors who will be able to assist businesses and individuals with the application process, and a broad outreach campaign via direct mail, email, phone calls and other methods to reach out to existing members and notify them of the need to re-enroll in an ACA-compliant plan during the open enrollment period.

September 12, 2013 Board Presentation

About the Massachusetts Health Connector

Established in 2006, the Massachusetts Health Connector helps Massachusetts residents find affordable, quality health insurance. More than 400,000 Massachusetts residents have gained health coverage since the Commonwealth’s historic enactment of health care reform, and nearly 240,000 obtain health insurance through the Health Connector. Massachusetts leads the nation in the percentage of residents with health insurance, with 97 percent of people covered.