Open enrollment begins today for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and officials are urging those in need of coverage to shop around..
Two insurers are offering plans for 2018, but average premium prices are soaring by double digits for most plans to reflect costs as well as the Trump administration’s policy changes to the federal health law known as Obamacare.
“We urge all Marylanders without health coverage to check out the website and the plans this year, even if they’ve looked before and chose not to enroll,” said Dr. Howard Haft, interim executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the online exchange called the Maryland Health Connection.
“From what they’ve heard and read, many may be surprised to find plans comparable to or even cheaper than a year ago, if they qualify for financial help,” he said.
Nine in 10 people who buy private plans qualify for subsidies and some may be eligible for Medicaid, the health program for low-income residents, according to exchange officials.
About 150,000 people bought private plans last year through the state exchange and others bought directly from insurers. Another 290,000 Marylanders were covered under the expanded Medicaid program.
Consumers will have 45 days to select a plan, about half the time in year’s past. They can sign up through marylandhealthconnection.gov, through a free mobile app called Enroll MHC, or by calling the consumer support center at 1-855-642-8572.
There also will be in-person enrollment events. A calendar can be found on the Maryland Health Connection website.
Brokers and navigators can help enroll consumers in person and on the phone.
HealthCare Access Maryland is the navigator group for Baltimore City and the counties of Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Carroll and Frederick. Consumers can find storefront locations and hours at www.hcamaryland.org, or by calling 410-500-4710 or 855-288-3667.
"We want the public to know that there are affordable health insurance options available on the exchange this year," said Traci Kodeck, president and CEO of HealthCare Access Maryland. "Our team of trained navigators will walk consumers through the process and help them make the best decision about insurance. We urge all residents of the area to learn about their options.”