image of barnstable county courthouse

News From SHINE – January 2017

Do you know of anyone who failed to enroll in Medicare Part B when they became eligible for Medicare because they mistakenly believed that they could continue with their Health Connector plan through the state and still receive the subsidy?

Many people newly eligible for Medicare thought it would be cheaper to remain in their Health Connector plan with subsidies, rather than pay Part B premiums, but did not realize that their Medicare Part A eligibility made them ineligible for premium subsidies, also called Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTC). When they realized their mistake, they were past their initial enrollment period and could only enroll in Part B during a General Enrollment Period, often incurring Part B late enrollment penalties.

For a limited time, these individuals can apply for equitable relief that will give them a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in Part B. In addition, Part B late enrollment penalties will not apply.


  • Individuals who waited for the General Enrollment Period (January 1 – March 31, with effective date of July 1st) to pick up Medicare Part B should contact their local Social Security Office to apply for equitable relief.
  • Individuals should submit any information or documentation they have on how they learned that the subsidies would not apply once eligible for Medicare and/or why they had thought they could continue with their Health Connector plan with subsidies. Any letters, emails, notes from conversations or other information that might be relevant should be included. For this relief, it is not necessary that the source of confusion be directly from a federal employee.

Please call the Regional SHINE office at 508-375-6762 if you need assistance with this process. For further assistance with any Medicare issue, trained SHINE volunteers offer free, confidential counseling on all aspects of Medicare and related health insurance programs. Please call the Senior Center to schedule a SHINE appointment.  For a list of Senior Centers, click here.

The Barnstable County Department of Human Services administers the regional office for the Cape and Islands SHINE Program (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone). SHINE counselors provide free health insurance information, counseling, and assistance to Massachusetts residents with Medicare and their caregivers.