By Carla Thomas, MPA Student
Applying for MassHealth is time-consuming and can be very stressful on both applicants and their families. The moments of waiting to learn which plan one qualifies for, or especially being denied the very coverage that one is in need of, is all quite a very overwhelming and difficult experience. After having to go through this crucial application torture comes a yearly renewal process that is a burden for people with severe mental and physical disabilities. Their health and financial status will likely not change, or if they do, it might not make that much of a difference in their eligibility status.
After gathering some information from a phone conversation with a MassHealth agent, I now understand that people do have the option of setting their account automatically, so that the account gets updated yearly on its own and clients don’t have to deal with the extra renewal paper work. I can only wonder if half of MassHealth clients have ever been properly informed of this option. I understand the sole purpose of having clients renew their coverage yearly is to learn if they have a new address of social security number, if their federal tax return was filled out, if there was a change in immigration or citizenship status — in other words, new information that needs to be updated. There should be an easier option for people with disabilities and for the elderly. Either their age or disability could qualify them for not having to go through the renewal process, or maybe it should be less of a burden to them.
Basically, for those who didn’t choose the automatic option, they are on their very own regardless of their health status. They either rely on family help or local community agencies. But, in addition to their daily health struggles, they have to remember to renew their MassHealth yearly, otherwise the coverage might be jeopardized or frozen. I learned that clients have a 45-day period, giving them enough time to take action and send the renewal paper work.
It sounds like a very easy task for someone like myself who’s somewhat healthy and has no medical barrier. I can only wish that such a large agency as MassHealth — whose mission is to help people in need — would spare those with severe health issues having to deal with extra paper work yearly. If you know someone who may need help filling out the renewal application, you can help them connect to a MassHealth representative at 800-841-2900, help them look for an Enrollment Center, or you can simply help them with the renewal application.
Below is the link from Mass.gov regarding MassHealth’s coverage renewal. If you or your loved ones know seniors or persons with disabilities who are currently receiving MassHealth coverage, please share this information with them.