Still need health insurance? Maryland’s health exchange has extended enrollment

The state’s marketplace for health insurance has extended open enrollment through February to allow more people affected by the coronavirus pandemic to sign up.

The insurance, known as Obamacare, was created largely for people who do not get coverage from their employers. It has grown in popularity, especially since the public health crisis began.


The health exchange already has enrolled a record number seeking coverage for 2022, according to a news release from the administration of Gov. Larry Hogan. There are 181,603 people signed up, including people who retained coverage. That a 9% increase from last year.

More people signed up directly with one of three insurance companies offering plans in the state to individuals. The total number of Marylanders who purchase their own health insurance rose 5% to 245,538 this month, officials said.


“As we battle this COVID-19 surge, this extended enrollment period will help get more Marylanders covered at a critical time,” Hogan said in a statement. “One of the many lessons of the pandemic is how important it is to have access to affordable and reliable health coverage, and we are fortunate to have a health exchange that is a national model.”

Enrollment began Nov. 1 and was scheduled to end Jan. 15, but will now run until Feb. 28.

Hogan had repeatedly reopened and extended enrollment last year to allow people to get insurance. Insurers had agreed to cover various COVID-19 testing, vaccinating and treatment for a time at no cost to beneficiaries, but mostly have restarted some cost sharing since vaccines have become widely available.

The increases were seen in every county and were also evident among various groups that traditionally had not signed up in great numbers.

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There was a 10% bump in Black enrollees and a 13% increase in Hispanic enrollees this year.

And there was a 6% increase in enrollment by young adults ages 18 to 34. That could be due to a $20 million subsidy fund set up in Maryland and larger federal subsidies. More people also qualified for federal subsidies under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Maryland had brought down the skyrocketing cost of plans through a reinsurance program beginning in 2018 that offset insurers’ expenditures on the costliest beneficiaries. That replaced a program cut by Republicans in Congress.

“I’m pleased that the marketing and outreach efforts we targeted to those groups helped get the message out about the need for health insurance, especially now,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, in a statement. “Getting high-quality, affordable coverage to as many uninsured people as possible and responding to chronic health inequities are essential to our mission.”


Marylanders can enroll through the They also can get information sent to them under another state program called the Easy Enrollment Program that is triggered when taxpayers check a box on their state tax forms. Another program launching later this year will do the same for those filing for unemployment insurance.

Advocates who had pushed for the various new enrollment programs say they are pleased to see the numbers of people enrolled on the rise.

“We are thrilled about the success of this past health care open enrollment and that the Governor has extended it to February 28,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative. “We are particularly pleased that thousands of previously uninsured young people have enrolled and we believe the new youth subsidies enacted by the General Assembly helped to make that happen.”