Maryland health insurance exchange
More than 17,000 gain health insurance through Maryland Health Connection
By Carla Anderson
December 9, 2013
Maryland Health Connection, the state-run health insurance marketplace, began accepting individual enrollment on Oct. 1. Through Nov. 30, Maryland Health Connection reported more than 508,000 unique visitors to its website. About 70,000 have created accounts, and almost 3,800 have purchased private insurance. An additional 13,298 people have qualified for Medicaid through Maryland Health Connection
Consumers have faced technical problems with the website, including difficulties setting up accounts, learning if they qualify for subsidies, and seeing all the available health plans. In addition, the Maryland Health Benefit exchange, which oversees the marketplace, announced a second delay in launching the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), which will be used by small businesses. The launch for the SHOP exchange has been pushed back until April 1, 2014. The delay will allow more thorough testing of the SHOP exchange than was possible prior to the launch of individual exchange. High-level personnel problems and legal disputes between contractors are also causing trouble for the Maryland Health Connection.
Maryland was an early adopter of the health insurance marketplace envisioned by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While many other states waited to see the outcome of the Supreme Court challenge to the ACA, Maryland moved ahead. The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE) was signed into law in April 2011, with additional legislation passed in May 2012. The MHBE was later rebranded as the Maryland Health Connection. In December 2012, the Maryland Health Connection was among the first six state-based exchanges to be approved by the federal government.
Maryland Health Connection is overseen by a nine-member board. The board has been driving decisions on the state’s exchange since 2011.
Maryland Health Connection functions as a clearinghouse, meaning any qualified health plan (QHP) can sell policies on the exchange. Any health plan with significant market share in the state is required to participate in the marketplace. After two years of operation, the exchange has the option to adopt an active purchaser model. Health plans are limited to selling four benefit packages per metal level (platinum, gold, silver, and bronze).
Maryland’s Connector Program provides in-person education and help with enrollment. Six organizations were selected to provide regional “navigator” — or outreach — services:
- Capital Region: Montgomery County Department of Health & Human Services
- Central Region: Health Care Access Maryland
- Lower Eastern Shore Region: Worcester County Health Department
- Southern Region: Calvert Health Care Solutions
- Upper Eastern Shore Region: Seedco, Inc.
- Western Region: Healthy Howard, Inc.
According to Kaiser’s statehealthfacts.org, about 770,000 Marylanders are uninsured. About 150,000 individuals are expected to purchase health insurance through the Health Connection in 2014, and the state estimates the exchange will save it $850 million over 10 years through lower costs for Medicaid and uncompensated emergency room visits..
Maryland health insurance exchange links
Maryland Health Connection
Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE)
Information about exchange planning and development
State Exchange Profile: Maryland
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Maryland’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Health Education and Advocacy Unit, Office of the Attorney General
Serves residents and other consumers who receive health care from a Maryland health care provider or health insurance provider.