Open enrollment for health care plans began Nov. 1
Southern Md. navigators offer free help
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.