Open enrollment starts Nov. 1st.
Baltimore, Md (KM) Residents who receive their insurance from the Maryland Health Connection could be in for a pleasant surprise when they renew. The Executive Director of the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange, Michelle Eberle, says the cost of their coverage is expected to decrease next year; on average by 13%.
“Last spring, through the Hogan Administration and the Legislature, we were able to secure funding and a waiver from the federal government to implement a reinsurance program,” says Eberle.
A reinsurance program reduces the costs to carriers who are providing coverage through the Maryland Health Connection. “In essence, what it does is protect the insurance companies from very high cost claims that they would otherwise had to pay, and spread that cost among all their members, ” says Eberle.
For residents enrolled in health insurance through the exchange, Eberle says it means they pay less compared to last year. “For the first time in 20 years, all of the premiums for all of the individual market health plans will be lower than what they were last year,” she says.
Right now, only two insurance companies provide health plans through the Maryland Health Connection: CareFirst and Kaiser Pemanente. But Eberle says more could jump on board with a reinsurance plan in place. It will “make the market attractive to get more individuals in, and to help protect some of the risk of some of those very high cost enrollees so that we can get more issuers into the marketplace, and increase the competition and increase the choice for consumers,” she says.
There are about 154,000 Marylanders enrolled in health plans through the Maryland Health Connection.
The Maryland Health Connection is administered by the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which is a public corporation and independent of the state government.
Citizens who want to enroll can go on line to www.MarylandHeathConnection.gov, and view the plans prior to open enrollment. They can also take part in a “Beat the Rush” events around the state, where they can look at plans, ask questions and enroll.
The closest “Beat the Rush” events to Frederick County are at the Upcounty Regional Services Center, 12900 Middlebrook Road, 2nd Floor in Germantown, on Saturday, Nov. 10th from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. There’s one at the Washington County Library, 100 South Potomac Street, Hagerstown, Md. on Saturday, Nov. 10th from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM. In Carroll County, residents can visit Carroll Community College, 1601 Washington Road, Room M-157, in Westminster on Saturday, Nov. 10th from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
People who come should bring their Social Security numbers; birth dates and general information about their family members applying for coverage; policy numbers of any current insurance; employer and income information, such as W2 forms, pay stubs, or wage and tax statements,; and information about any job-related health insurance available to their families.
Open enrollment ends December 15th. These insurance plans will take affect January 1st, 2019.
By Kevin McManus