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Second health open enrollment going well, Hoyer says

The second open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act is going well for Maryland. In fact, it’s going 29 times better than it did last year, said U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) in a conference call Wednesday.

So far, more than 65,000 people statewide have signed up for health care through Maryland’s new and redesigned health insurance marketplace, the Maryland Health Connection, as of Dec. 8. At the same time last year, only 1,900 people had signed up.

“We’re very happy with how this is going,” Hoyer said.

To have health coverage by Jan. 1, one must enroll by Dec. 18, and people who enrolled last year must sign up again by the same date to keep their subsidies, said Carolyn Quattrocki, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, during the conference call.

Hoyer said he believes the Maryland exchange will only improve with each passing year as more people sign up, prices become more affordable and more options become available.

“The message everywhere going forward … is for people to come back every year,” he said. People may have an income adjustment to report to make the amount of financial assistance change, and new plans are offered every year, so even people currently enrolled need to visit the new Maryland Health Connection.

In the future, Hoyer said signing up for health care through the exchange will be as simple as signing up for the plan with which people are already happy.

“It’s night and day” between the old system and the new system, Hoyer said, and the number of people signed up so far is a “great step forward.”

“The best open enrollment in the world will only be successful if people know about it,” Quattrocki said.

During the first open enrollment period last year, 2,516 people signed up for insurance with the help of CONNECT Southern Maryland, a program of Calvert Healthcare Solutions, a nonprofit that serves the three Southern Maryland counties. Of those, 1,285 were from Charles County, 673 were from Calvert County and 558 from St. Mary’s County, according to previous reports.

Total enrollment during the second open enrollment, as reported by Maryland Health Connection as of Dec. 5, showed 894 enrollments in Charles, 522 in Calvert and 518 in St. Mary’s. Of these, as of Dec. 9, 682 people had signed up through CONNECT Southern Maryland, with 136 from Calvert, 385 from Charles and 161 from St. Mary’s, according to information provided by CONNECT Southern Maryland (Note: These numbers from CONNECT include the number of people seeking eligibility determinations, which totals 58 regionwide).

Michael Shaw, the executive director for Calvert Healthcare Solutions, said in an interview the second open enrollment period “is going really, really well for us.”

Personal assistance signing up for health care through the state system is available, in addition to financial assistance based on household size, income and other factors. To receive personal assistance enrolling in health care, contact CONNECT Southern Maryland at 855-339-3007. Visit Maryland Health Connection online at www.marylandhealthconnection.gov, or call 1-855-642-8572, for more information. Open enrollment ends Feb. 15.

Subtitle: 
More than 65,000 Marylanders have signed up for health care