I work with quite a lot of authors and artists in Massachusetts. Many of them are turning to art or writing because they have medical issues which prevent them from “going out” to work. While they are building up their art or writing business, they’re required by Massachusetts law to have health coverage. Also, it’s just good sense to proactively take care of your health before things get serious.
Because health care options can be so confusing, I decided to put together a page of what I understand about MassHealth and the Health Connector programs in Massachusetts. Note that I’m not a lawyer so it’s always best to verify actual numbers for yourself.
First, to begin with, the US government has a program called Medicaid. Medicaid is a nation-wide safety net to ensure that people who have no other option can at least get basic care. Every state chooses how they implement this program. Here’s the details on Medicaid:
Health and Human Services (HHS) page on Medicaid
So here in Massachusetts, we have named our Medicaid program “MassHealth” (with no space). MassHealth is the program that provides a safety net for people of low income, for the elderly, for pregnant women, for children, for those with disabilities, and so on.
MassHealth on Mass.gov webpage
The income level is tied to Federal poverty levels. The cutoff is updated every year, around March it seems. Here is the chart for March 2018.
MassHealth Income Level Guidelines
So, for an example, an individual adult (i.e. no dependents) would make $1,397 or less a month in order to qualify.
I’ve talked with MassHealth and they understand that some people have seasonal fluctuations. If you make less money in the winter and then more money in the summer, if you occasionally cross over that $1,397 (or whatever) limit, that is OK. They don’t want you filing and refiling every week for temporary blips. As long as your yearly income stays within the same range that is OK.
If you DO cross up out of the MassHealth range, which is currently $18,090 for an individual for a year –
Mass Health Connector Page – look for the Affordability Schedule
You then cross into the Massachusetts Health Connector. This is a support system to help people who are not in the poverty range but who still need health insurance to be able to find it. Not all jobs offer health insurance, after all.
So on this chart, for 2018, if you make $18,091 to $24,120/yr in salary you would pay between $44/mo to $58/mo for your health insurance.
If you make between $24,121 to $30,150/yr in salary you would pay between $84/mo and $106/mo for your health insurance.
These are of course the base prices. If you had some sort of a horrific accident and required all sorts of surgery and medication and therapy, there are undoubtedly deductibles and other extra costs involved. We’re just talking about the base cost to be covered.
The Affordability Schedule contains all the details about different income levels and how much base health insurance costs.
Once you get covered by the Mass Health Connector, you can now choose from their available plans to determine which company you want to go with. They work with the standard plans you’ve heard about – BlueCross BlueShield, Fallon, Delta Dental, and so on. You choose which one works best for you. You get your monthly bill from the Mass Health Connector and you just pay that every month.
So there are options out there. Research to see what works best for you. Good luck!