Editorial : The straight dope
The annual open enrollment period for Commonwealth Care, the subsidized state health insurance plan, is now through June 25.
People who are insured under Commonwealth Care - there are about 1,200 Islanders who use this coverage - may choose between two nonprofit managed care organizations that the state's Health Connector, the agency that administers this part of the state insurance plan, has approved to provide Island coverage. Both have contracts with Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
Boston Medical Center (BMC) Health Net, the first plan made available to Islanders following the implementation of the state's landmark law in 2006, is no longer one of plans available here. It will shortly have no contract with the hospital. That's why its subscribers must make a new choice.
You can select an insurer online at the state Health Connector, or by phone, or at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, or at the county's Health Care Access office. It takes a few moments.
By law, with some exceptions, everyone in Massachusetts must have health coverage that meets state standards. So, if you were a BMC Health Net insured, and you drop the ball or forget to make a new choice, the state will select an insurer for you. You won't be without insurance.
That's the news.
The news is not, as reported in the Vineyard Gazette over the past couple of months, that 1,500 Islanders will soon be without health insurance. It is not that Islanders in this cohort are confused - hundreds of them have already made their new insurance selection - except perhaps those who foolishly paid attention to that news coverage. The state will give Islanders facing a choice several alerts this month along with the straight dope about what to do during the enrollment period. No one will be without authoritative information. The county's Health Care Access program will offer several workshops during this enrollment period, for Islanders who need advice on the best choice.
Contemplating health insurance questions - insurance questions generally, for that matter - is no fun. It requires some thought and ultimately a choice that may not suit each and every requirement a person has. This morning, Nelson Sigelman, The Times' managing editor, lays out the facts related to this change in available coverage and furnishes contact information for those who want additional details or advice. Newspaper reports that holler that large segments of the Vineyard population will be without coverage or that many insured Vineyarders are confused exploit a complicated issue and do a disservice to the simple truth.