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Major carrier plans to offer Obamacare policies in Maryland again

UnitedHealthcare, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, plans to resume offering Affordable Care Act policies in Maryland next year after rising costs led it to leave the state’s online marketplace in 2017.

State officials had been seeking to lure carriers back to the health exchange, which offers coverage to those who aren’t covered though their employer. It has been down to two insurers in recent years, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and Kaiser Permanente.

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UnitedHealthcare was more of a bit player on the exchange in the past. It’s not clear how popular it will be during the next enrollment period in the fall, but state officials touted the extra choices it will offer, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are very pleased United has chosen to enter Maryland’s individual market,” said Gov. Larry Hogan, in a statement. “During this public health crisis, it’s more important than ever for Marylanders to have access to a robust marketplace with different options to suit their needs.”

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The exchange reports that 159,000 people now have private plans through the state’s online marketplace, called the Maryland Health Connection. Another 29,000 people have signed up during a special enrollment period offered during the pandemic. That period runs until June 15.

State officials credited their efforts to shore up the exchange through payments to insurers to offset the most costly customers. The state program passed by the General Assembly replaced a federal program that was scraped by the Trump administration.

“UnitedHealthcare intends to offer individual plans in 2021 that provide strong coverage options for those shopping on Maryland Health Connection,” said Krista Nelson, senior vice president, UnitedHealthcare, in a statement. “We look forward to working with the State of Maryland to help individuals get access to health care coverage that meets their care needs.”

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