Maryland has reopened its health insurance exchange for enrollment, with officials citing the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
The state recently held its annual sign-up period for coverage beginning this year, but officials wanted to give residents more time to buy a plan through the online marketplace, created under the Affordable Care Act and generally used by people who don’t get health insurance through an employer.
The extended period runs through March 15.
Gov. Larry Hogan cited a special enrollment period last year that allowed more people to enroll in the coverage, known as Obamacare.
“I am pleased to announce this new special open enrollment period, in addition to last year’s COVID-19 special enrollment, which saw record enrollment as one of the longest periods in the country,” Hogan said in a statement. “This additional special enrollment period is another way we are helping Marylanders weather the pandemic and come back stronger and healthier in the new year.”
Officials noted that the plans purchased through Maryland Health Connection cover COVID-19 testing costs. Some insurers continue to cover other costs related to the virus.
The state’s previous special enrollment period, which lasted much of last year, ended with 107,000 people enrolling in health plans. That included 35,000 people in private plans and 72,000 qualifying for Medicaid, the federal-state health plan for low-income residents. People can enroll in Medicaid year-round.
Most people in private plans receive subsidies to pay premiums.
“We are encouraged by the overwhelming response during the last special enrollment period,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, in a statement. “As the pandemic continues and job loss remains an acute consequence, we are working to make health coverage accessible to all and to support the diverse communities in Maryland.”