Health Insurance

Massachusetts law limits when state residents can buy health insurance. The law applies to individuals and families buying health insurance on their own, outside of an employer’s plan or government-subsidized program. People in this group will have two opportunities to buy health insurance in 2011: Jan. 1 to Feb. 15, and July 1 to August 15. People who are uninsured and need health insurance now are advised to act soon in order to meet the Feb. 15 deadline.

Special conditions that allow people to buy health insurance outside of the time period include:

• People who had health insurance coverage for the last 18 months and did not experience a break in coverage and do not currently have access to Medicare or MassHealth, did not lose coverage due to fraud or nonpayment, and who act within 63 days of losing either employee-sponsored health insurance coverage, COBRA, or government-subsidized health benefits such as MassHealth, Commonwealth Care, or Tricare.

• People who lose coverage due to the loss of dependent status through divorce, age, death of a spouse, legal separation or the end of a domestic partnership.

• People who have a health plan that serves an area where you no longer live.

• College students who lose a qualified student health insurance plan.

Go to or visit for updates and more information, or call 1-887-623-6765. For local assistance call the Vineyard Health Care Access Program at 508-696-0020 or e-mail

Flu Clinics

The Vineyard Nursing Association and town boards of health for Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and West Tisbury will host two all-Island flu clinics for children and adults. The clinics are free of charge and open to children aged two and older; adults are welcome as well. The first clinic will be held on Saturday, Jan. 29 at the Howes House in West Tisbury from 9 to 11 a.m. The second clinic will be held on Saturday, Feb. 5 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

The Department of Public Health suggests flu vaccination for people at high risk of contracting the flu; this group includes health care workers and people who work with children under six months of age. It is recommended that adults and children receive one vaccine per year, but children under nine may require two doses the first year they receive a vaccination.

Questions about the flu clinic or necessary paperwork can be directed to the Vineyard Nursing Association at 508-693-6184.

Vineyard Village at Home

Vineyard Village at Home is pleased to announce the beginning of a year-long pilot project to provide free transportation to and from medical appointments for elderly Island residents.

Funding for this project comes from a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Community Health Initiative. Vineyard Village at Home is one of only four Island organizations to receive a “mini grant” of $5,000 from the hospital.

The nonprofit organization is just three years old and has as its mission to help older Islanders continue to live independently in their own homes by providing free transportation, social events and access to prescreened service providers and elder service agencies.

The medical transportation program opens this service to nonmembers who are at least 65 years old and who live on the Island year-round. Riders must be ambulatory and able to get in and out of a vehicle with little or no assistance. As with the transportation offered with VVAH membership, rides are provided by volunteer drivers (for the most part) and are subject to the availability of drivers.

The organization is recruiting additional volunteer drivers and spreading the word about the program to the Island elderly population and health care providers.

“We see this program as a way for our organization to help promote health and wellness of older folk in our community,” says Polly Brown, Vineyard Village at Home president. “Transportation is a huge issue for these people here on the Vineyard, especially if they can no longer drive. With our help, they can get to their doctors, dentists, and what have you and stay healthy.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or learning more about the medical transportation program and Vineyard Village at Home membership should call Program Coordinator Jane Hawkes at 508-693-3038.