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Need health insurance? Maryland reopened its health exchange due to the coronavirus again

Maryland officials have reopened the online health insurance exchange to anyone who needs coverage during the coronavirus pandemic.

Enrollment through the exchange, largely for people who do not have work-based insurance, had been reopened before, earlier in the pandemic. More than 54,000 people signed up for plans in the four months ending July 15.

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While people who lost their jobs had a window to enroll in exchange coverage, officials feared too many people were missing out.

The new period will last until Dec. 15. As a result it will overlap with the typical fall enrollment period for the insurance, known as Obamacare.

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Gov. Larry Hogan’s declaration of a public health emergency in March because of the coronavirus pandemic gave state Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Birrane the ability to reopen the marketplace, which now has three insurers offering policies.

Exchange plans cover testing and treatment of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Consumers do not have to be sick to enroll.

“As Maryland continues to battle this global pandemic, we would like to make it as easy as possible for uninsured Marylanders to address their health concerns by reopening the coronavirus special enrollment period to help our Maryland families get the health coverage they need,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which oversees the exchange.

Earlier this week, insurance regulators used the emergency powers to ban health insurers from canceling or refusing to renew individual health policies for nonpayment for the next 60 days. That order applies to plans unpaid on or after July 31 and will remain in effect until Sept. 30, though the moratorium could be extended.

The order applies to individual and family plans sold directly by insurers or through the exchange.

Most people with exchange plans qualify for subsidies. For more information, contact the Maryland Health Connection for information at 855-642-8572 or marylandhealthconnection.gov.

“We are thrilled that Maryland is once again leading the way on health care by keeping our special enrollment period open until Dec. 15,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative. “This is one of the best ways to help keep Marylanders healthy in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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