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Maryland’s enrollment in Obamacare jumps 12% during coronavirus pandemic emergency

Maryland’s health exchange added 200,000 enrollees during the coronavirus emergency, an increase of 12% from pre-pandemic levels, officials said Tuesday.

The state opened a special enrollment period in March 2020 to allow people who were losing employer-provided health coverage or otherwise without it to get insurance. The period was extended repeatedly until Aug. 15 to help those affected by the coronavirus.

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The health exchange was created under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and coverage is generally known as Obamacare.

During the state’s health emergency, about 54,402 people enrolled in federally subsidized private plans offered by three private insurance companies, while 20,460 enrolled without financial help. An additional 126,278 enrolled in Medicaid. Maryland was among the more than three dozen states that expanded the federal-state health program for low-income residents.

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More than 1.3 million state residents now receive health coverage through the exchange, including 1.2 million in Medicaid and 165,000 in private plans.

“We are pleased that so many Marylanders were able to enroll in affordable health coverage at a difficult time,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the marketplace, in a statement.

The exchange reported that substantial numbers of the people who enrolled were young adults (close to 70,000) and Black (more than 60,000) and Hispanic (almost 26,000).

Enrollment opens again Nov. 1 for 2022 coverage, though, with life changes such as a job loss or marriage, people can enroll anytime. Medicaid enrollment also is open year-round.

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