The Health Safety Net (HSN) formerly known as the "Free Care Pool"
The "Free Care Pool" or the Uncompensated Care Pool was a program administered by the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP). This program helped to pay for some medical services for low and lower income people with incomes up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) who sought care at a Hospital or a Community Health Center (note for an individual that income level is $43,344- add $14,976 per each dependent). As part of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law, this program was to be reformed. DHCFP has new guidelines/regulations for this program.
The program is now called the Health Safety Net and has new rules that are going into effect. DHCFP will be sending out letters to those who are presently in the "free care pool" or have used the "pool" in the past to let them know of the new changes and how they may impact them. Please note that as before, you only have to be a Massachusetts Resident to be eligible for the HSN. Immigration status is not a factor. The Connector does not oversee the HSN. The HSN also covers some medical expenses for those at or under 400 percent of FPL who are underinsured (i.e. their insurance fall short in covering medical services).
It is important to be aware that if a Health Center or Hospital provides a service to you that they cannot bill to the Health Safety Net, you will have to pay the bill for that service. Many doctors also bill separately and their services may not be covered by the HSN. When getting care make sure you ask your doctor what services are covered by Health Safety Net.
Remember that if you have hard to determine income talk to an enrollment advocate to help determine your income-don't try to figure it out on your own- see below.
Some of the key changes to be aware of:
1) Anyone who is a Massachusetts adult resident, is 19 years or older and is eligible for a MassHealth Program or Commonwealth Care and they do not enroll, they are not eligible for the Health Safety Net.
2) If an adult is de-enrolled for nonpayment from a MassHealth Program or Commonwealth Care, they are not eligible for the Health Safety Net.
3) To be eligible for HSN you must not be able to get "affordable" insurance through your employer(s) (affordable as defined by the Individual Mandate regulations).
4) There are new co-pays for some services.
5) There are no deductibles for those at or below 200 percent of the FPL. Those over 200 FPL, as was the case of the Free Care Pool, do have deductibles (for an individual that income level is $21,672- add $7,488 per each dependent).
For more information you can call the HSN helpline: 1-877-910-2100
Also see Health Care for All's webpage on the HSN
To find out if you are eligible for the HSN, you will need to fill out a Medical Benefit Request (MBR) form. We highly recommend that you enroll via Health Care for All's Help Line or with an enrollment specialist at a Community Health Center or at a Hospital.
Remember the HSN is not considered health insurance and will not be considered as insurance by the Department of Revenue. In other words, you will not be considered meeting the individual mandate if you have HSN coverage and you are deemed by the state to be able to afford health insurance.