For the past month Red Mass Group has taken a look at the Massachusetts Health Connector. Every time that a news story said that the deadline to pick a plan had been extended we had one question for the Health Connector Authority, “has this changed, and if so by what statutory authority?” Time and time again, until December 23, 2013, the answer was no it had not changed, unsubsidized plans would get no reprieve.
On Monday December 23, 2013 – coinciding with an extension given by Barack Obama – the Health Connector changed course and allowed people purchasing unsubsidized plans to select insurance by December 31, 2013 and pay by Janauary 10, 2014. This was a departure from previous statements.
Red Mass Group then asked the question of the Health Connector Authority, “by what statutory authority was the deadline allowed to be extended?” While extending the deadline, due to the malfunctioning website is seemingly the prudent thing to do, we are still a nation and Commonwealth of laws.
Jason Lefferts, spokesman for the Connector Authority responded, “Coverage effective dates are prescribed by federal and state regulations-45 C.F.R. §155.410(c) on the federal side and 211 CMR 66.00 on the state side. However, the payment due date, which is what was actually extended, is determined by internal Health Connector business policies. A number of other states, including Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Maryland and California, extended deadlines as well.”
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In response to further questioning Lefferts confirmed that no vote of the Board of Directors was taken to institute the change, the decision was made by the Connector staff.
Lefferts further noted that, “We worked very closely with carriers on this extension. The carriers have been very supportive and flexible throughout this transition period.”
He continued, “It’s also probably worth noting that in 2007 carriers took enrollments right up to Dec. 31 as well, so people could sign up before the individual mandate kicked in in 2008.”
So you now have until next Tuesday to select a plan and January 10, 2013 to pay for it. According to consumers posting to the Health Connector Facebook page, the website is still having problems.