Massachusetts Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Facts 2021

What Massachusetts Residents Need to Know About Obamacare for 2021

Essential facts about the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) in Massachusetts, including whether you must get health insurance, how much it will cost, and how you can save money.


Updated: 2021-02-16 by

It's not too late! Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) enrollment will remain OPEN in Massachusetts until May 23.

Massachusetts has announced that it will extend enrollment for health plans under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) until May 23, 2021. This is one week longer than the federal special enrollment period announced by the Biden administration.

This website provides information about getting health insurance under the ACA, including:

To begin, keep in mind these key points about health insurance in Massachusetts:

1. Massachusetts law requires you to have health insurance.

Obamacare's federal tax penalty went away in 2019. But Massachusetts has had its own health insurance requirement since 2006. That means most Massachusetts residents must have health insurance or face a state tax penalty. The penalty applies only to adults, and the cost depends on your income and the rates for various health plans offered in the state. (You can find the penalty amounts for tax year 2020 in this document from Mass.gov.)

To find out if your current health plan complies with state law or to find out whether you qualify for an exemption, see Do I Have to Get Health Insurance in Massachusetts?

2. Open enrollment for 2021 health insurance plans is open until May 23, 2021.

In Massachusetts, you can sign up for 2021 health coverage until May 23, 2021. This four-month extension of the state's usual open enrollment period allows those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to get health coverage, though anyone eligible to use Massachusetts Health Connector can enroll in a plan or change plans during this time.

To learn more about enrollment, see How To Sign Up for Obamacare in Massachusetts.

3. For 2021, average health insurance premiums increased by almost 8%.

In Massachusetts, seven insurers are offering plans on Massachusetts Health Connector for 2021 and average annual costs have gone up by 8%. A Division of Insurance representative noted that the uncertainties of COVID-19 were a factor in the increases, even though insurers have so far made a profit during the pandemic because fewer people are seeking non-essential health care.

4. Subsidies are available to save you money.

In Massachusetts, tax credits or increased eligibility for Medicaid may help you lower your health insurance costs.

Subsidies that reduce your monthly premium. Many people who sign up for insurance at Massachusetts Health Connector will be eligible for cost savings in the form of tax credits that lower your premiums. Under the Affordable Care Act, savings are available to those earning less than 400% of the federal poverty level. The subsidies were designed to grow in proportion to increasing monthly premiums -- and the cap on subsidy eligibility keeps rising, too. For 2021 health plans, for example, a family of four in Massachusetts earning as much as $104,800 can qualify for subsidies, as can an individual who earns up to $51,040.

In addition, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers its own set of subsidies for those who earn less than 300% of the federal poverty level.

You can find out whether you qualify for any of these subsidies when you apply for a plan at Massachusetts Health Connector.

Increased eligibility for Medicaid. If your income is very low, you may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid in Massachusetts. Because Massachusetts expanded Medicaid eligibility under Obamacare, state residents making less than 138% of the federal poverty level -- for 2021 health plans, that's $36,156 for a family of four --will qualify for MassHealth.

For more information, see Ways to Save Money on Obamacare in Massachusetts.

5. You can get help signing up if you need it.

A couple of years back, the Trump administration drastically cut funding for programs that provide help with health insurance enrollment. But Massachusetts has long provided good support options and the Biden administration is expected to quickly reverse the former administration's policies, making it much easier to get the information you need to get covered. To connect with local support resources, see How To Sign Up for Obamacare in Massachusetts.


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