Open en­roll­ment un­der­way for MHC’s af­ford­able health cov­er­age

The Star Democrat - - LOCAL - By CHRISTINA ACOSTA ca­[email protected]­pub.com

EAS­TON — Open en­roll­ment is un­der­way for Eastern Shore res­i­dents who are look­ing to ob­tain af­ford­able health cov­er­age through Mary­land Health Con­nec­tion, the state’s of­fi­cial health in­sur­ance mar­ket­place.

Open en­roll­ment for health and den­tal plans is avail­able un­til Dec. 15. In­di­vid­u­als can visit www.mary­land­health­con­nec­tion.gov to en­roll or search for free or lo­cal help, down­load the Mary­land Health Con­nec­tion ap, or call 1-855-642-8572. The on­line ap­pli­ca­tion is avail­able from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.

The mo­bile app fea­tures a but­ton that says get help and a GPS lo­ca­tor ,and one can find any one of the 1,800 con­sumer sis­ters around the state. There are nav­i­ga­tors, pro­duc­ers, li­censed pro­duc­ers, ap­pli­ca­tion coun­selors, lo­cal de­part­ments of health and de­part­ment of so­cial ser vices help­ing in­di­vid­u­als for free. There is no cost to the in­di­vid­ual to en­roll in health in­sur­ance.

“We are up over­all from last years en­roll­ment, by about five per­cent, so we want to ex­ceed that num­ber,” said Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Mary­land Health Ben­e­fit Ex­change Michele Eberle. “Although we are try­ing to get the word out this is the first time in 20 years that pre­mi­ums have been low­ered, nine out of 10 peo­ple that come to the ex­change for health in­sur­ance will re­ceive fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. So it’s a great year to get in­sured.”

The goal of Mary­land Health Ben­e­fits Ex­change is to make health cov­er­age af­ford­able and more ac­ces­si­ble for Mary­lan­ders, and aim for all Mary­lan­ders to have the health cov­er­age that is best for them. Nearly 154,000 Mary­lan­ders en­rolled in qual­i­fied health plans for 2018.

Ac­cord­ing to the Mar yland Health Con­nec­tion Data Re­port from Oct. 31, The en­roll­ment distri­bu­tion by county stated 1,217 Tal­bot County res­i­dents en­rolled for health plans and 6,437 en­rolled for Med­i­caid. Ad­di­tional find­ings stated en­roll­ment per­cent­ages based on race in­cluded 60 per­cent were white, 31 per­cent clas­si­fied un­der other, 7 per­cent were African-Amer­i­can, 2 per­cent were Asian, and 3 per­cent were His­panic.

This year, Mary­land res­i­dents sign­ing up for Af­ford­able Care Act health in­sur­ance plans are see­ing a 13 per­cent av­er­age price drop in 2019, which marks the first rate de­crease since the en­act­ment of the fed­eral health­care law in 2010.

“We had a real good last leg­isla­tive ses­sion, it was a bi­par­ti­san ef­fort to im­ple­ment a re­as­sur­ance pro­gram in the state of Mary­land,” Eberle said. “So what that is al­low­ing us to do is pro­tect some of the high­risk en­rollees and lower the rates for ev­ery­one. That is why this year for the first time in 20 years, in­di­vid­ual mar­ket places has been re­duced across the board.”

When ap­ply­ing, be sure to have So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers (or doc­u­ment num­bers for le­gal im­mi­grants), proof of cit­i­zen­ship or im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, tax re­turns for pre­vi­ous years, em­ployer and in­come in­for­ma­tion (pay stubs, W-2 forms), pol­icy num­bers for any cur­rent health in­sur­ance, in­for­ma­tion about any job-re­lated cov­er­age you or some­one in your house­hold is el­i­gi­ble for and photo ID, if you’re ap­ply­ing in per­son. Eberle en­cour­ages con­sumers to start en­rolling as soon as pos­si­ble to get health ben­e­fits catered to an in­di­vid­u­als or fam­ily needs.

CON­TRIBUTED PHOTO

Open en­roll­ment is avail­able through Dec. 15, and it is open to Eastern Shore res­i­dents look­ing to ob­tain health cov­er­age through Mary­land Health Con­nec­tion.

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