Residents will be able to sign up for health insurance through the Md. Health Connection.
Baltimore, Md (KM). It’s almost time to sign up for insurance through the Maryland Health Connection. Open enrollment begins on November 1st, and continues through December 15th. Any insurance plan purchased during that time will take affect January 1st, 2018.
Prior to that time, “Beat the Rush” events will be held across the state the weekend of November 3rd through the 5th. None will be held in Frederick County, but residents can visit “Beat the Rush” locations at Carroll Community College, Room M-157, 1601 Washington Road, Westminster, Md. on Saturday, Nov. 4th from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM; the Germantown Regional Service Center, 12900 Middlebrook Road, 2nd floor, Germantown, Md.on Saturday, Nov. 4th from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM; or Washington County Library, Main Branch, 100 South Potomac Street, Hagerstown, Md on Saturday, Nov. 4th .from 10:30 AM to 4:00 PM They should bring along their Social Security numbers, birth dates and general information about they and their family members who are applying for insurance. In addition, residents should bring the policy numbers of any current health insurance, employer information, such as W-2’s and information on any job-related insurance they or their family members hold. Connection spokesman Andrew Ratner says individuals will be on hand to answer questions, and help residents choose the best health insurance plans for their needs.
For those who can’t make it to the “Beat the Rush” events, Ratner says they can go on line to the Maryland Health Connection’s website (Marylandhealthconnection..gov) He also says there’s an app available which contains a lot of information. “It also has a GPS locator so you can plug in your zip code, and just like you would look for a place to eat on YELP or something, you can find the closest navigator or broker to help you enroll,” he says.
The health exchange in Maryland was created following passage of the Affordable Care Act, and there’s a lot of discussion in Washington on the future of this law, which is often called Obamacare. Many patients may wonder if they should enroll, if the law requiring it disappears. But Ratner says they should. “Obviously, the future of the Affordable Care Act, there’s much in the news. But Maryland is one of a dozen states with its own state exchange. Whereas marketing and outreach has been cut back at the federal level, it has not been cut back in Maryland,” he says.
On Thursday, President Trump signed an executive order to make lower premium plans more widely available, which he says “millions and millions” of people will benefit. But reporters were told the changes the President has outlined could take months to implement. Republicans in Congress tried twice but failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Ratner also says since the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange was put in place, the number of persons in the state who lacked health insurance has been cut in half. “The latest from the Census Bureau is 6.1% didn’t have insurance in Maryland compared to 14% to 15% for probably 50 years leading up to the last few years,” he said.
“There are probably still 300,000 people or so without health insurance in Maryland,” says Ratner. “But that’s down from more than 700,000 when this began. There’s been no question that this has helped a lot of people access insurance, particularly those with pre-existing conditions or have been priced out previously and are now able to do so.”
In addition to the website, citizens can also call 1-855-642-8572 to ask questions and to enroll.
By Kevin McManus