For more information on your options under the American Rescue Plan and Unemployment Benefits click HERE
The Health Connector Open Enrollment is extended through July 23, 2021. Apply today to see if you qualify for free or lower cost coverage like MassHealth, ConnectorCare plans, or a tax credit. Apply by July 23 for coverage that starts August 1.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does this program work?
If you currently have unemployment income and don’t have access to other affordable health coverage (such as through a spouse or a program like Medicare), you will likely qualify for a low- or no-monthly cost ConnectorCare health plan through the Health Connector. You can qualify for one of these plans even if your household income may be higher than the normal limit for a ConnectorCare plan.
What are ConnectorCare plans?
ConnectorCare plans have no- or low monthly premium costs. They also have low out-of-pocket
costs for services like doctor visits, and no deductibles. Depending on where you live, you may be able to choose from a few ConnectorCare plans offered by different insurance companies. Each company has a different provider network. Providers include doctors, hospitals and health centers. When you enroll, you can use our online tools to find a plan that includes the providers you want. Learn more about choosing the right ConnectorCare plan for you here (link to CC shopping guide?).
When and how will I see if I qualify?
This is a very new program and we are still updating our system. For this reason, there will be a one-day delay in updating your eligibility for this program. When you apply or update your existing account with information about your current unemployment income, you’ll see program eligibility information that doesn’t reflect your eligibility based on unemployment income yet. However, by the following day, you should be able to sign into your account and see an updated program eligibility. You will also get a letter in the mail confirming your eligibility. Once you see that you qualify for ConnectorCare, you can review your ConnectorCare plan choices, choose a plan, and enroll.
What if I want to stay in my current Health Connector health plan?
You do not have to change your enrollment to a ConnectorCare plan if you don’t want to. If you choose to stay in your current Health Connector plan, you may still receive tax credits to help lower the monthly plan premium. However, you may miss out on some of the extra benefits that are unique to ConnectorCare plans, which have very low out-of-pocket costs for services like doctor visits, and no deductibles.
Is there a chance I won’t qualify even though I am getting unemployment income?
Yes. You may not qualify for the special unemployment-related benefits if you already have access to affordable, quality health insurance through another source—such as your spouse’s health insurance, or Medicare. It’s also possible that you will qualify for MassHealth coverage instead of a ConnectorCare plan.
Will I have to pay any of the tax credit money back for this program?
I you had unemployment income in 2021 and qualify for this program, you should not have to pay back the federal tax credit applied to your monthly premium as part of this benefit. The federal tax credit applied to your monthly premium to help lower the cost is called an Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC). Usually, the IRS compares the amount of APTC you received during the year to the amount you should have received based on your actual income for that year. This process is called tax reconciliation. Because this is a special program just for 2021, the IRS will not reconcile your tax credit with your 2021 income if you received this benefit based on unemployment.
Note: If the IRS finds that you did not have unemployment income in 2021 and received the benefit in error, you will be responsible for paying back any tax credit that you received during the year that you weren’t eligible for.
What if I don’t have unemployment income now but I had it earlier in the year?
If you reported the unemployment income earlier this year, we will automatically update your program eligibility based on this information, even if you are no longer collecting. If you did not report unemployment income at the time when you had it, our system won’t be able to process information about your earlier unemployment income at this time. However, we are working on adding this feature. We expect that by August 2021, you will be able to report unemployment income from earlier in the year and enroll in a ConnectorCare plan going forward, if you qualify.
In the meantime, you may still be able to enroll in an affordable health plan through the Health Connector. If we find that you qualify for ConnectorCare later on based on your earlier 2021 unemployment benefits, you may be able to get a tax credit at the end of the year for the earlier months when you weren’t able to access the benefit. Your tax credit will be equal to the amount of money that would have been applied to your monthly premium during the year if you had been able to receive the benefit earlier. However, the tax credit will only be based on months that you were enrolled through the Health Connector.
How do I decide between Health Connector and COBRA health coverage?
The American Rescue Plan included help for people who have COBRA health coverage. If you qualify, you may be able to get COBRA coverage with no monthly premium cost through September 2021. If you’re not sure if you qualify for this program, please talk to your employer or former employer.
As you compare these two options, you may want to consider:
- Out-of-pocket costs, for services like doctor visits. ConnectorCare out-of-pocket costs are very low, and may be less than the costs with your COBRA coverage
- ConnectorCare plans have no deductible. Your COBRA coverage may have a deductible, which you may have not met yet for 2021
- Provider networks. Each ConnectorCare plan has a different plan network. You can review ConnectorCare plan networks before you make a decision, to see if the plans include providers you want to be able to use. You can then compare these provider networks with your COBRA option. [link to standalone provider search tool?]
If you decide to enroll in COBRA coverage, you will still have the option to enroll with the Health Connector later on. When help with paying for your COBRA premium ends, it is considered a qualifying life event. This allows you to enroll through the Health Connector outside of the Open Enrollment period.
What happens when this program ends?
At the end of 2021, this special program for people with unemployment income will end. At that time, our normal program rules will apply again, and we will look at household income and other factors to decide which program people qualify for. We will send you more information in the fall about what your 2022 program eligibility and your options for 2022 health plans. There are many affordable, high-quality Health Connector health plans that you can choose from, even if your ConnectorCare coverage ends.