Md. health exchange launches new app
Aim is to help people who use mobile devices enroll; website to be improved
Maryland health exchange officials have launched a new app specifically designed to help people enroll in health insurance on their phones and tablets. The move is a response to the high rate of people using mobile devices — more than a third — to visit the state’s online marketplace for health insurance.
The free “Enroll MHC” app — available in the App Store for iOS users and the Google Play Store for Android users — will be loaded with 2017 plans before open enrollment begins Nov. 1, officials said. Those who need insurance to begin in January must enroll by Dec. 15, though enrollment continues until Jan. 31.
The exchange, created under the federal Affordable Care Act, provides a forum for people without workplace insurance to buy coverage. Hundreds of thousands of people have bought private plans or enrolled in Medicaid through Maryland’s exchange.
The exchange suffered technical difficulties so severe during the first enrollment period in 2013 that the technology was scrapped. Since then, there have been several enrollment periods without major incident and officials say the emphasis now is on finding those who still haven’t bought coverage, despite a federal penalty for not doing so, and improving the consumer experience on the website, MarylandHealthConnection.gov.
Some key targets of the exchange — young people, those with low incomes, and African-Americans and Latinos — depend more on their phones for online access than other groups, according to exchange offiA Maryland state trooper was justified in cials. About 13 percent of Americans with fatally shooting a 30-year-old man last year annual household income of less than during a struggle outside a Wal-Mart in $30,000 rely on their phones, while 1 Cecil County, prosecutors said. percent of households earning $75,000 or The Cecil County state’s attorney’s office more do. cleared Trooper Daryl Brackett, 29, in the
The exchange also will redesign the shooting death of Charles Hall of North website this year to use simpler language East in August 2015. and provide better directions to speed the “The state finds no criminal wrongdoing enrollment process, exchange officials said. by Trooper Brackett, and we consider this
Last year, exchange officials said, some matter closed,” Deputy State’s Attorney people were flummoxed by an enrollment Steven Trostle wrote in a letter dated Nov. question about how many people were in 15, 2015. It was obtained Monday by The their household because they had nonfamiBaltimore Sun through a Maryland Public ly roommates, for example. Information Act request.
The redesigned website, which will State police said they would not comdebut in October, “will be a little friendlier,” ment on the matter, citing a pending with more terms and steps explained, said lawsuit. The agency did not discuss the Andrew Ratner, director of marketing and nature of the suit. strategic initiatives at Maryland Health Brackett told investigators he was patrolBenefit Exchange, the quasi-governmental ling the North East Plaza shopping center agency that oversees the online marketon Aug. 21, 2015, when he saw Hall and place. pulled up, according to a synopsis of the
Ratner told members of the exchange interview, also obtained through the Public board Monday that the combination of the Information Act request. mobile app and the redesigned website Brackett said he ran Hall’s name and should make it easier to enroll, though he found an open warrant, then approached couldn’t say if users would require less help Hall as the man was loading items into his from thecar.callcenter,whichisheavilystaffed during enrollment. The effects will be Hall “started fumbling in his pockets for tracked, he said, adding that when Connecthis keys and jumped in his car,” Brackett icut’s exchange introduced a similar app, told investigators. people browsed or began enrollment on He said he blocked the car door and tried their phones but didn’t always complete the to pull Hall out. He said Hall was trying to process through the app. put the car into drive as he was ordering
Exchange officials plan to advertise the him out. app and website on social media and in Brackett said he hit the man’s arms to promotional events as open enrollment break Hall’s grip on the steering wheel. ramps up. Brackett told investigators the two men
struggled and the trooper pulled out his
Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, delivers his State of the University address at Retriever Activities Center on the UMBC campus. The address, titled “UMBC at 50: Reflections and Aspirations,” was the culmination of a four-day celebration of the university’s anniversary. Hrabowski has been the president of UMBC since 1992.