State law puts new limits on health plan enrollment


Massachusetts residents who do not have health insurance are now limited to two enrollment periods in which they may buy it in 2011, under a law that went into effect last month.

The law applies to individuals and families buying health insurance on their own, outside of an employer’s plan or government-subsidized programs such as Medicare, MassHealth, Commonwealth Care, and TRICARE.

The first enrollment period began January 1 and ends February 15. The second runs from July 1 through August 15. Those who wish to buy insurance before February 15 are advised to act soon in order to meet the deadline, Vineyard Health Care Access Program (VHCAP) Director Sarah Kuh advised in a recent press release.

Some people may meet special conditions that allow them to buy health insurance outside of those two time periods. A list of the conditions is available online at with a search for “limits on health plan enrollment.”

The state’s health care reform act, signed into law in April 2006, requires adults in Massachusetts who can obtain affordable health insurance to do so. Failure to obtain an insurance plan results in tax penalties.

For local assistance with healthcare programs and information about how to purchase health insurance that is subject to limited enrollment periods, call VHCAP at 508-696-0020 or send an email to