LAWRENCE – September 24, 2018 – To ensure residents impacted by the Columbia Gas incident on Sept. 13 are assured continued health insurance coverage, the Massachusetts Health Connector is expanding its existing premium hardship waiver program to members and small businesses who need assistance.
The waivers, for Health Connector and Health Connector for Business members, including ConnectorCare, impacted by the incident, are available through the end of 2018, covering up to three months of premiums and coverage upon demonstrated need.
“This crisis turned lives upside-down, and many people are going to be dealing with the impacts for months. Many residents need the financial reassurance that their health insurance is not in danger and they can continue to access care,” said Louis Gutierrez, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health Connector. “The waiver process is straightforward for members and small businesses, and will allow them to quickly move on to other concerns while ensuring their Health Connector coverage remains in place.”
There are currently about 7,500 Health Connector members who live in the three communities impacted by the Sept. 13 gas fires, along with 23 small businesses that provide coverage to employees through Health Connector for Business. Additionally, affected residents who had been in the process of getting into coverage may apply for an extension so they have more time to complete the process.
To request a waiver, a member who purchases health insurance for themselves or their family through the Health Connector must contact the Health Connector’s customer service center at 877-623-6765. The member will need to attest on the call they are impacted by the Sept. 13 incident. The attestations are legally binding and may be subject to additional proof as necessary for program integrity.
Members can also get help securing a waiver by reaching the Health Connector’s Ombudsman program online (www.MAhealthconnector.org/ombudsman-contact-form), or visiting the Health Connector’s Navigator organization in Lawrence, the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, and speaking to a Navigator. The GLCAC Navigators are at 305 Essex St., Lawrence, and can be reached at 978-620-4784.
Small businesses impacted by the incident can request a waiver by contacting Health Connector for Business customer service at 888-813-9220. Business owners will need to legally attest they are impacted by the incident. Small businesses can also email customer service at Smallbusiness@state.ma.us to request a waiver.
The Health Connector currently serves more than 260,000 individuals and small-employer members with health insurance. About 80,000 people receive dental insurance through the Exchange. New applicants and renewing members can go to the Health Connector’s website, MAhealthconnector.org, to secure coverage.