Marylanders who purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act were given a holiday reprieve from an early deadline and have another week to sign up. But procrastinators shouldn’t dawdle any longer. Unlike in previous years when the deadline to shop and sign up for insurance came at the end of January, even with the extended deadline this year, it’ll need to be done by Friday, Dec. 22.

State officials announced the extension on Wednesday, ahead of the initial deadline of Friday, Dec. 15. The shortened 45-day enrollment period in Maryland matched the enrollment period set by the Trump administration for federally operated health insurance exchanges, but because Maryland operates its own exchange, it was able to give residents an extra week.


Much has been made of efforts in Congress this year to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare. That could, in part, explain why enrollments are up about 10 percent across the state.

In Carroll County, enrollment numbers are down somewhat. Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, told us that just under 3,000 Carroll residents had purchased health insurance through the Maryland Health Connection as of Dec. 6. By late January of last year’s enrollment period, nearly 3,700 people had signed up.

That means there are probably a few hundred individuals in Carroll who need to beat the deadline in order to have health insurance next year. It’s also possible that some people who had signed up previously to avoid the individual mandate tax penalty are awaiting the Republican tax bill to pass, a version of which would reduce the penalty to $0, effectively eliminating the controversial mandate.

Deadline to sign up for health insurance in Maryland extended

People not insured through an employer can shop for plans, see if they qualify for Medicaid or tax subsidies for purchasing insurance and enroll by visiting or by calling 855-642-8572.

For low-income individuals and families who need health insurance, however, some changes at the federal level may make it a better deal than in previous years, according to Eberle.

A family of four making $53,000 could have purchased a silver plan in 2017 for $243 per month, after factoring in a monthly tax credit. Assuming no changes in income, the same family would now be eligible for a higher tax credit that could lower their month premium to $14, according to the Maryland Health Connection website. A 21-year-old earning $25,000 could get a monthly premium of $2 or less in 2018 with tax credits.

Whether you’ve signed up before and thought premiums were too high or signed up for the cheapest plan possible to avoid the individual mandate, if you don’t have health insurance through your employer, it’s at least worth checking with the Maryland Health Connection to see what your options are.

People not insured through an employer can shop for plans, see if they qualify for Medicaid or tax subsidies for purchasing insurance and enroll by visiting or by calling 855-642-8572, or visit, the connector organization for Carroll County that can help connect people with health care navigators.

You never know when you might get sick or injured, or someone in your family might, and need health insurance. If you don’t have it, it’s worth exploring your options as long as they are still available, but you need to act soon.