Open enrollment on Maryland’s health insurance marketplace kicked off with a new carrier, expanded savings for young adults and changes to value plans.
Marylanders have between Nov. 1 and Jan. 15 to purchase private plans on the marketplace, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange said in a news release. Those who qualify for Medicaid may enroll at any time of year.
The marketplace includes plans that cover many health services for free or a low cost, Michele Eberle, the exchange’s executive director, said in the release. Plans include coverage for vaccines; screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers; prescription medicines; mental health, and other health services.
Coverage starts Jan. 1 for plans selected before Dec. 31 and on Feb. 1 for plans chosen in January.
This year, Marylanders can purchase plans on the exchange from Aetna for the first time, as well as from CareFirst, Kaiser Permanente and United Healthcare. Vision plans are new this year to the marketplace, Eberle said.
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Marylanders between 18 and 37 can get special discounts on plans through a pilot program implemented in 2021 by state legislation introduced by Del. Ken Kerr of Frederick County and Sen. Brian Feldman of Montgomery County.
The pilot program, which was extended during this year’s legislative session, has provided $20 million in subsidies each year to adults with lower incomes to help them purchase health care. Enrollments of people between 18 and 34 reached more than 53,000 in September, according to a report from the exchange — up 16% from last year.
“It has been really successful,” Eberle said of the program. “I can give you a really good example. If you were living in Baltimore City, and you’re age 25, you can get a gold plan for zero payment a month if your income is less than $27,500. And that’s between the federal tax credits and the young adult subsidy tax credit.”
The health benefit exchange also made changes to value plans offered on the marketplace this year to make costs for common health care services clearer and more consistent across insurance companies, the exchange said in the news release.
Value plans, which are designed to have lower out-of-pocket costs and are a particularly good fit for people with high prescription costs, are offered by all insurance companies on Maryland Health Connection. They have lower caps on the amount patients have to pay out of pocket for prescriptions and cover routine services for people with diabetes at no cost, including insulin, primary care visits and certain lab work.
“Our feeling is, we can’t address chronic conditions if people can’t afford what they need to manage their chronic condition,” Eberle said.
Eberle encouraged people who are buying plans on the marketplace to ask for help if they have questions about eligibility or specific plans. Marylanders can connect with an insurance broker or navigator at marylandhealthconnection.gov/find-help.