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January 30, 2024

Massachusetts Health Connector sees largest number of enrollees in a decade

Photo | Grant Welker UMass Medical School in Worcester

Put it in the record books: the health insurance open enrollment period at the Massachusetts Health Connector that ended last week saw the single largest number of new enrollees in a decade.

More than 72,000 Bay Staters newly enrolled in health insurance plans available through the state-run Connector marketplace between Nov. 1, when open enrollment started and its close on Jan. 23, officials announced Monday.

That makes up the bulk of a 40 percent increase in enrollment over the past year.  Health insurance is mandatory in Massachusetts and the activity and churn is associated with a number of factors.

Asked if more people than usual are being dislocated from their health plans and needing to find new ones, Jason Lefferts, a spokesperson for the Connector, said people joined plans offered through the marketplace "for any number of reasons, including losing another coverage source, newly moving to the state, graduating from college or leaving a parents' plan, changing jobs, or joining the ranks of the insured after being uninsured or experiencing a coverage gap."

One key factor behind the increase had been forecast by state officials: the MassHealth eligibility redetermination campaign. 

The state's combined Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program rolls have shrunk by about 280,000 since the state kicked off a year-long effort last April to reassess eligibility of MassHealth members. According to the Connector, more than 90,000 of those people have obtained coverage through the Connector once they lost MassHealth. In January and February alone, some 25,000 Bay Staters jumped from MassHealth to plans available through the Connector.

The enrollment activity in the last year has been supported by expanded outreach efforts through direct communications and high-impact visibility activities focused on the open enrollment period and the ongoing MassHealth redetermination process.

Officials touted the enrollment jump as a sign of success for another policy change: a two-year pilot program baked into the fiscal 2024 budget making more people eligible for low- or zero-cost subsidized health insurance. About 43,000 members moved into those ConnectorCare plans during open enrollment.

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