Open en­roll­ment for health care plans be­gan Nov. 1

South­ern Md. nav­i­ga­tors of­fer free help

The Calvert Recorder - - News - By DANDAN ZOU dzou@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @CalRecDANDAN

Open en­roll­ment in Mary­land started Thurs­day, Nov. 1, for health plans un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act. Health of­fi­cials ad­vise those in need of cover­age to re­view the plans and shop around in the next 45 days.

Res­i­dents can ap­ply or re­new their plans on­line at www.mary­land­health­con­nec­tion.gov. If they need help, seven nav­i­ga­tors in the tri-county area from non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion Seedco are avail­able for free, in-per­son as­sis­tance. Seedco, a na­tional agency, has part­nered with Mary­land Health Con­nec­tion to help peo­ple nav­i­gate the health care ex- change in sev­eral coun­ties, in­clud­ing St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles.

Michele Eberle, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Mary­land Health Ben­e­fit Ex­change, said in a re­lease Tues­day that health in­sur­ance rates this year have dropped an av­er­age of 13 per­cent.

“It def­i­nitely could be worth your while to come in, shop and see what’s avail­able,” said Mark Ro­manin­sky, se­nior pro­gram di­rec­tor at Seedco who’s in charge of the op­er­a­tions in South­ern Mary­land. Since health care plans are highly per­son­al­ized, Ro­manin­sky said it’s hard to gen­er­al­ize what the new rates would look like to each in­di­vid- ual per­son or fam­ily.

“Just like ev­ery year, there are new plans. There could be new rates,” he said by phone Wed­nes­day, not­ing it’s best that peo­ple “dou­ble-check to see what the new op­tions are and to make sure they have the best plan tai­lored to their needs.”

If the pol­i­cy­holder does noth­ing, they will be au­to­mat­i­cally be re-en­rolled in their cur­rent plan or tran­si­tioned into a sim­i­lar plan if the cur­rent plan no longer ex­ists.

“Your sit­u­a­tion may have changed,” Ro­manin­sky said, adding peo­ple may have heard some news re­ports that sug­gest their rates could go up. “But you don’t re­ally know un­til you put your num­bers in.” He en­cour­ages res­i­dents to set up an ap­point­ment with a lo­cal nav­i­ga­tor or at­tend a lo­cal en­roll­ment event to find the plan that best fits their needs.

Last year, nine out of 10 Mary­lan­ders who en­rolled through Mary­land Health Con­nec­tion re­ceived fi­nan­cial help to off­set some or all of their costs, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease from Seedco.

Res­i­dents have un­til Dec. 15 to sign up for next year’s cover­age that be­gins on Jan. 1, 2019. For those who are el­i­gi­ble for Med­i­caid, they can en­roll year round. Con­sumers in the re­gion are en­cour­aged to con­tact Seedco at 855-339-3007 or 240-270-1218 to sched­ule a free, in-per­son ap­point­ment with a nav­i­ga­tor to shop or re­visit their plans. They can also go to a free en­roll­ment event next week in their area.

In Charles County, an event is sched­uled for Nov. 9 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Seedco, 3 Post Of­fice Road, Suite 102, in Wal­dorf. St. Mary’s County res­i­dents can stop by the Lex­ing­ton Park Li­brary from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 10 for en­roll­ment help. A sim­i­lar event will be held at the Calvert Li­brary Prince Fred­er­ick from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 10.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the 2019 health in­sur­ance plans and prices, visit the ex­change at www.Mary­land­Health­Con­nec­tion.gov or Seedco at www.seedco.org/af­ford­able-health-care-mary­land.

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