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Enrollees in health insurance sets record in Maryland

A new record was set for Marylanders signing up for health coverage through the state’s health-care portal, Gov. Larry Hogan said.

The Republican leader announced Friday morning that 182,861 residents enrolled for through Maryland Health Connection, a 10% increase over the 2021 open enrollment total of 166,038.

“We were proud to be one of just four marketplaces that extended open enrollment in response to the omicron surge,” Hogan said in the release. “Among the many lessons of the pandemic is the importance of having affordable, reliable coverage, and Marylanders are getting covered in record numbers.”

The state joined Colorado, New York, and the District of Columbia in extending the open enrollment period as the omicron variant led to a rise in cases in the state. The deadline was extended through the end of February.

The program, according to the release, saw a record for new enrollees as well, with 47,315 signing up for health insurance. The new mark is a 70% increase with more than 26,497 residents who newly enrolled last year. Of that, 8,000 new enrollments took place in the six-week extended period.

Of the enrollments, the release reads, young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 signed up in record numbers, surpassing the 50,000 mark. The enrollments are a 7% increase from the previous year.

The increased numbers are tied to $20 million in funding provided by the state that was earmarked for encouraging young adults to sign up for insurance. The program brought premiums down by roughly $40 a month for more than 33,000 qualifying young adults.

“We are very happy that nearly 11,000 of those young adults were new to Maryland Health Connection,” Michele Eberle, executive director for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said in the release. “That achieved the state projections for the young adult subsidy pilot program that is in place for next year as well.”

The savings, according to the release, stemmed from the American Rescue Plan Act, which covered all ages as enrollments rose more than 60% for middle-income families who earned more than 400% of the federal poverty level and were eligible for insurance.

Reducing rates were a focal point of new enrollments, which included communities of color that traditionally have disproportionately lacked health insurance. This year, enrollments increased by 11% among the Black community with 30,776, and Hispanic enrollments increased 14% to 20,396.

According to the release, stable rates were responsible for increasing the purchasing power of the state’s families for health insurance coverage, with more than 18,000 choosing platinum or gold level plans. Both plans have a slightly higher cost but offer lower out-of-pocket deductibles.

There will be additional chances for uninsured residents to enroll for coverage; they’ll use the Easy Enrollment Program. To participate in the program, residents will be permitted to acquire coverage by checking a box when filing state income tax forms with the comptroller.

The Maryland Health Benefits Exchange has plans of starting a program later in the year with the Department of Labor that would allow anyone who files for unemployment insurance to check a box stating they need coverage. The program will allow those residents to enroll in free or low-cost coverage.

Plus, those residents who qualify for Medicaid can enroll at any juncture.

This article was originally posted on Enrollees in health insurance sets record in Maryland

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