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Deadline approaches for those who lost health insurance to enroll through Maryland’s exchange

Nearly 53,000 Marylanders have signed up for health insurance through the state’s health exchange since a special enrollment period began in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But time runs out Wednesday for more people to get coverage.

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Exchange officials launched the special enrollment period to give people who lost their jobs and employer-related health insurance, another chance to buy a policy. Those who checked a box on their tax returns also were given another chance to enroll.

There normally is a fall enrollment period for the following year for coverage through the exchange created under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Those who lose employer-based coverage also normally have only 60 days to enroll.

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Exchange officials announced the extra enrollment period after Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Those who enroll by Wednesday will have coverage beginning July 1.

“We cannot predict what the coming months will bring.,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which oversees the online marketplace. “We want everyone to get covered and stay covered so they are prepared to get health care when they need it.”

Exchange insurers have agreed to cover coronavirus testing and treatment without a copay or deductible.

Most people who buy policies in Maryland receive some subsidy. Others will qualify for Medicaid, the federal-state health program for low-income residents.

For information or to enroll, call 855-642-8572 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays or go to MarylandHealthConnection.gov.

Nationally, 3.5 million people were expected to lose their job-based health insurance because of the pandemic this year, resulting in more than 10 million family members losing coverage, according to researcher by the Urban Institute with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The researchers estimate that about 3.3 million will regain employer coverage through a family member, 2.8 million will enroll in Medicaid and a 600,000 will sign up for exchange coverage. About 3.5 million will be uninsured, particularly in states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility, such as Maryland.

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