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List: Top 3 Commonwealth Health Care Questions

PHOTO: Commonwealth consumers with questions about health care have at least one reliable place to turn: A Helpline staffed by qualified counselors at Health Care For All that handles about 30,000 questions a year. Courtesy: HCFA
PHOTO: Commonwealth consumers with questions about health care have at least one reliable place to turn: A Helpline staffed by qualified counselors at Health Care For All that handles about 30,000 questions a year. Courtesy: HCFA
April 16, 2014

BOSTON - Although things have calmed down a bit since the open-enrollment period just ended, the folks at the nonprofit Health Care for All still expect their phone to keep ringing - thousands of times a month.

Hannah Frigand, who manages the Helpline, said the third-most-asked question is, "How do I find a doctor?" The runner-up question is, "What does my insurance cover?" The No. 1 most-asked question, she said, is, "What do I qualify for?"

"This is in regards to people who are usually uninsured," she said. "Well, does this person qualify for subsidized health insurance or a subsidy, or do they need to go to a private insurer, to really getting them down the right path."

She said she anticipates an upswing of calls from people who want to know what their options are after missing the enrollment deadline. However, she added, those numbers won't be too large because the state's insurance exchange has been up and running for a number of years already.

Frigand said the phones are staffed Monday through Friday during the day, and voicemail kicks in at other times.

"We get about 30,000 calls a year on average," she said. "It does fluctuate basically based on what's going on in the health care system.

With open enrollment for private insurance ending last month, Frigand said she expects they'll be getting more calls from people who missed the deadline. She said they may find there is good news.

"There have been some of those calls already," she said. "If you could qualify for Medicaid or subsidies, you might still be able to go through the marketplace. In most instances you can."

The organization has six full-time counselors taking questions in English, Spanish and Portuguese at 1-800-272-4232.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - MA