Your Guide to Maryland Health Insurance
Before we jump right into Maryland health insurance and everything you need to know, let’s start with a little background information. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a “Obamacare” or ACA) was passed with the goal of getting all Americans access to affordable health insurance. To meet this goal, one measure Obamacare took was to create the ACA health insurance marketplaces, or health exchanges: one-stop shops where Americans can choose from a range of standardized, government-regulated health care plans. Health exchanges are also where eligible people can get subsidies, which lower the cost of their health plans.
States were given the option to run their own local exchange, take part in a multi-state exchange, or use the federal exchange. States that run their own exchanges get to customize many elements, including the time frame during which their residents can sign up for a plan. Several states decided to operate their own state exchanges and continue to do so to this day. Maryland is one of those states.
Maryland’s Health Insurance Landscape: Then and Now
The Maryland health insurance exchange is called Maryland Health Connection. Before the ACA, 12.9 percent of Marylanders were uninsured. Since the introduction of Maryland Health Connection, the percent of Marylanders without health insurance has dropped to 7! 153 thousand people enrolled for health insurance through Maryland Health Connection for 2018, which was down 2.6 percent from enrollment for 2017.
The Maryland Health Insurance Exchange
Maryland Health Connection is where eligible people throughout the state can find subsidized ACA plans. Open Enrollment for 2019 in Maryland begins November 1 and ends December 15. Your coverage will start January 1. This sign up window is the exact same as the window given on the federal exchange!
Maryland Health Connection uses an active purchaser model for their exchange. This means that Maryland Health Connection negotiates with health insurance carriers directly to get the best rates, networks, and benefits possible for you.
Maryland Health Connection is one of seven states with a reinsurance program, which essentially reimburses insurers for costly claims. This results in lower total claims costs for insurers and is transferred to you in the form of lower premiums.
Like all other state exchanges, each plan on Maryland Health Connection covers 10 essential health benefits. These include things like prescription coverage, maternity and mental health care, and laboratory services.
Buying insurance with Maryland Health Connection involves four steps:
1. Create an account on Maryland Health Connection
2. Complete the online application form
3. Compare your options
4. Select your plan and enroll
In true health insurance fashion, each of these steps can be trickier than you expect. Many people need help navigating the website, estimating their income, figuring out if they are eligible for subsidies, and understanding what documents are needed for proof of income, citizenship, or identity. Luckily, you can find a navigator to help you in-person with your application!
Maryland Health Connection’s Intricacies: What You Need to Know for 2019
Both insurers that offered plans on Maryland Health Connection for 2018 will continue to do so for 2019. This means both carriers are returning to the exchange. These two carriers include:
As of 2018, CareFirst made up the majority of the Maryland health insurance market.
According to a recent Maryland Insurance Administration press release, insurance plan prices are decreasing. The amount by which it decreases depends on where in Maryland you live. On average across the state, your monthly premium will decrease by 13.2 percent if you choose to keep your current health plan. While many states are seeing premiums on the rise, Marylanders are lucky to be seeing these significant decreases. Not to mention, of the 153 thousand people enrolled through Maryland Health Connection, 76 percent receive federal subsidies.
If you live in Maryland, the start of Open Enrollment (the time of year when you can enroll in a new health plan) is here. Be sure to find your most affordable plan, and you’ll be well on your way for smarter, better savings all year long. And don’t forget – if you need help finding a subsidy or picking a plan, our experts are here to help!