gleaned from various sources.
the references for up to date information.
Comments on This Section Are Welcome
everyone begins on a COBRA plan. Your plan may be more expensive
than other options. We've listed a few of these below. It is likely
you can save a hundred dollars or more by changing to a non-COBRA
the first order of business is to apply for Mass. Benefit assistance.
This can be worth a bit over $500 per month in non-taxable support.
The income limits are not that stringent particularly if you've
been out for. See next section. We don't know if Gov. Romney's cuts
will affect this.
1. Payment Assistance
Medical Assistance Plan:
payments of up to $532 per month to people currently receiving
unemployment benefits and whose family income, including unemployment
benefits, that is lower than plans' income limits. [Example:
family of 4 = $73,600]. You must pay 100% of your premium and
have an invoice to supply to the plan administrator. There are
other qualification criteria and benefits above the $532 reimbursement.
Managed by BCBS. Found they were very helpful.
Note: You should
apply even if you exceed the income guidelines because after
a few months you may not and the plan will kick-in. BCBS should
contact you at that time - (I was told this, but you should
confirm this when you make your initial call.)
or call 800-914-4455
Also see: http://www.detma.org/workers/msp.htm
for details (just a few pages)
The state also offers
a Direct Coverage Plan, but you have to be in real financial
difficulty. Same contact info as above.
b. MassHealth Buy-In:
This program is for
those who have run out of unemployment benefits and can't use
the benefits of the Medical Security Program (above). To qualify,
your spouse cannot work more than 100 hours per month.
1-888-665-9997; Customer Service Center 1-800-841-2900
Can pay half of health
insurance premium for families if either husband or wife is
"self employed". NOTE: Contact them even if
you're not as you may still qualify with a business certificate
from your town hall.
If your previous employer
provided health care coverage they will offer to have you continue
coverage under the same plan. You will likely be required to pay
the full premium. Since most people laid-off are given very little
notice, you should elect this option - at least for the first
You should immediately
look at other options because the savings for comparable plans
can be significant. Generally you can sign up for another plan
at any time, but usually the first of a month.
Medical insurance and COBRA
If your COBRA benefits expire, the insurance company may be willing
to roll you into a non-group plan. In evaluating your options,
you should check this one out. Also see the next section for contact
Per a FENG (Finance Exec. Networking Group) member; "Whatever
you do, don't let medical coverage lapse for over 60 days."
i.e. after your COBRA runs out. You must get new insurance prior
to the 60 days. Insurers in MA will require a HIPPA (health insurance
portability.) certificate as proof of when your last coverage
ran out. If it is over 60 days you may be ineligible for some
plans offered by the state except during open enrollment once
per year October"
Information on COBRA: http://www.dol.gov/dol/pwba
Direct to the Insurance
Many times the rate
can be less than COBRA, but they are unlikely to compete with
offerings associated with groups (see below)
Ask for the "Non-group" sales department
a. For a comprehensive
list of companies and sample rates see http://www.state.ma.us/doi/Consumer/css_health_plans01-12_2002.html
. You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the linked
filed. If you don't have it get a free copy at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html
BCBS Ask for "Health plans for Individuals"
Ask for HMO & PPO Blue Direct
Also See Top three paragraphs http://www.bcbsma.com/common/en_US/healthPlansIndex.jsp?levelTwoCategory=Other+Plans&targetTemplate=titleBody.jsp
Pilgrim Health Care - 800-208-1221 HPHC Non-Group Sales
Also see this link
for benefit options. Costs are not shown. http://www.harvardpilgrim.org/public/coverage/cc%201679.pdf
Rules: important: Must elect to enroll within 30 days
of termination. Call Customer Relations Coordinator at 800-462-0224
and hit option 2.
See the following
link bottom of the page. http://www.tuftshealthplan.com/providers/provider.php?type=prov&sec=news&content=grpcov-cobra&rightnav=grpcoverage
are many alternatives for people or their spouses that are/were
self-employed. The term "self-employed" is not what
you may think - so don't rule yourself out. The qualification
criterion varies for new businesses and for existing businesses.
If your spouse is self-employed but you got your coverage from
your employer you can automatically qualify through your spouse.
If your spouse is employed, but you used your job for health
insurance coverage - switch to your spouses employer.
Otherwise, you have
to get creative and find the best way is to become "self-employed"
as defined by the provider. Most of the references listed below
"want" your business. Talk to them. Ask about their
qualification criteria and attempt to meet it. In some cases
it's as simple as having a Business Certificate [available from
your Town ($20)] and a letter on your letterhead. So don't rule
HSA (Health Service Administrators): [Part of Mass
Business Association]. $100 one time fee to join. Offers
a variety of plans including Tufts and HPHC. Competitive rates.
Qualifications appear to be flexible but they are targeted
to existing self-employed people you or your spouse.
Divided into "new" businesses and existing businesses.
Existing businesses - "remember your spouses business
qualifies" only needs a Federal Income Tax Schedule C
New business: Need proof: Business Certificate from your town
hall ($20) and/or invoice and/or a letter on your letterhead
indicating you're the only full time employee.
Call Jodi Sargent or Holly Tarrant at 781-228-2171;
They are very helpful
SBS: Worcester - same kind of organization as AIM.
National Association For the Self Employed - Provided
by Mega Life & Health Ins. Contact Jim Connington, Tel.
(781) 982-2290 ext: 282 or e-mail at JimConnington@aol.com or see their web
site at www.naseweb.com/JimConnington.htm
Veterans: For the veteran alone - no family coverage.
You need a DD214 form. [Per Larry Colvin, DET] Go the nearest
outplacement clinic - Worcester 508-856-0104, Framingham: 508-628-0205
MassHealth for the Long-Term Unemployed: Must meet very
low-income cut-off. Contact 800-841-2900
Other organizations: Organizations like the IEEE may
offer insurance options.
Contact MA Division of Insurance Consumer Section at 617-521-7777 and explain your situation for a list of insurers and rate
comparisons. You can also go on the their web site and dig it
Mass Small Business Association: http://www.mbainsurance.com
"Dental" Insurance Options
Difficult to get.
Let us know if you know of any other options
National Association For the Self-employed It is Mega Life &
Health. See above for contact info.
Also try http://ameriplanusa.com/
We have not investigated this, but a member offered this
option that provides dental coverage for people when
they join a network