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Maryland wraps up late enrollment on its health exchange

Maryland's health exchange officials say they have contacted all 18,000 people who reported having trouble signing up for insurance through the state's online marketplace before the end of open enrollment in April and added 7,500 people to the rolls.

Others enrolled on their own and still more were duplicates, said Alison Walker, a spokeswoman for the exchange.


She couldn't say if there were others left who had technical trouble with the glitch-prone site, but she said they'd still be able to enroll.

As of April 19, the exchange had enrolled 67,757 in private insurance plans, according to new data released by federal health officials this week.


Maryland's exchange website crashed on its first day Oct. 1 and has flummoxed users ever since. Officials said they would ditch the software and adopt technology used on the much more successful Connecticut site in time for the next open enrollment in November.

In all, the total enrolled in private plans around the country through exchanges is about 8 million, with Maryland representing less than a 1 percent of that number, below the amount the state's population would suggest. Officials had reported that 400,000 were uninsured in the state and eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Another 4.8 million people enrolled nationally in Medicaid. In Maryland, there were almost 263,000 enrolled in the federal health program for the poor.

Federal officials also reported that about 3 million Americans under 26 now are covered on their parents' plans and about 5 million bought coverage directly with insurers.

"More than 67,757 Marylanders signed up through the marketplace, demonstrating brisk demand for quality, affordable coverage," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement. "Together we are ensuring that health coverage is more accessible than ever before, which is important for families, for businesses and for Maryland's health and well-being."

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The federal data also showed that about 54 percent of those who enrolled in Maryland were female and 33 percent were under age 35.

Medicaid enrollment remains open year-round and those with changes in their life status also can sign up outside of open enrollment.

This is something that Kris Goe of Elkridge found herself in need of when her employer of seven years laid her off in February. But when she called the exchange, she was told open enrollment was closed.


Goe, who worked in human resources, understood that there was a special enrollment period for those in her circumstances and called several times until she was able to sign up for a CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield plan with subsidies.

"They didn't know anything about special enrollment," she said. "I ended up talking to four different people; it went on for days. The last person I talked to got it through, no problem."

Goe is now waiting for an insurance card, which should be active by June 1.