With coronvirus at hand, Maryland allows consumers to buy insurance during special enrollment

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the state is creating a special enrollment period so uninsured Marylanders can buy health coverage.

The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange said Friday that it is using emergency powers granted under an order from Gov. Larry Hogan to allow the enrollment from March 16 to April 15. Coverage would start April 1 regardless of when a consumer enrolls..


The online marketplace was created under the federal Affordable Care Act for people who do not have workplace or government insurance. Maryland residents can enroll through or get assistance by calling 1-855-642-8572.

Low-income Marylanders who qualify for Medicaid insurance can enroll through the exchange at any time during the year.


“Health concerns are heightened for many families, and Maryland is in a state of emergency,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, in a statement. “We are grateful for the support of our insurance companies in opening this additional special enrollment for uninsured residents,”

Insurance will be a factor for those who need to be tested and treated for the coronavirus.

The Maryland Insurance Administration has used the same emergency powers to order carriers it regulates to pay all the out-of-pocket costs for testing, as well as allow consumers to buy extra prescriptions and access care even if it’s out of network. The order applies to exchange plans for individuals and small businesses, as well as some other plans.

Private carriers, however, including CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield, and Kaiser Permanente, have also said they would cover the costs of testing and make other exceptions to rules covering medications and care.

Health care advocates lauded the moves.

“In this crisis it is essential that all uninsured Marylanders get coverage so they can get the care they need – for their safety and for all of us,” said Stephanie Klapper, deputy director of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, in a statement. “We call on the Trump administration and every other Governor to follow Maryland’s lead to help protect everyone in our nation.”