Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) administration on Thursday released the name, logo and Web site for a new state government unit created to let residents purchase health insurance plans next year under the Affordable Care Act.
Maryland Health Connection will begin open enrollment in October
2013. More than 100,000 Marylanders are expected to purchase insurance through the site next year, with that number growing to more than 250,000 within five years. The first state-subsidized plans will become effective in January 2014.
Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who is leading the efforts to implement the law, said that Maryland remains a leader in the federal health-care overhaul.
Sixteen states have established health insurance exchanges under the law recently upheld by the Supreme Court. Another 16 are studying plans to do so, and seven states have decided not to offer such exchanges, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Residents in states that do not set up exchanges will have to rely on a federal exchange.
The exchanges are supposed to create online marketplaces in each state where residents and small businesses can compare available health plans, see if they are eligible for tax credits and enroll in health plans.
Seven states and the District of Columbia have begun selecting and negotiating with some health insurance providers for the plans that will be offered on their sites. Other states will let the sites act as a clearinghouse, allowing all qualified insurance companies in their states to market plans. Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange, a public corporation controlled by a board of public officials, many of whom are members of O’Malley’s administration, has not a format.
Brown unveiled a four-leaf, blue-and-green logo for the Maryland exchange and also announced the state had won additional federal grant funding of $123 million to help build its Web site for next year’s debut.
The federal funding has been a boon for professional services firms, the Washington Post recently reported. Like other states, Maryland has awarded tens of millions of dollars in contracts to firms to study and help create its exchange.
“Maryland has moved forward aggressively to build our exchange in order to expand access to affordable health care options, and today’s grant is further recognition of our national leadership,” Brown said.
“With the help of these funds, the name Maryland Health Connection will become synonymous with a one-stop, transparent marketplace where individuals and small businesses can compare rates, benefits and quality among private insurance plans to find one that best suits their needs.”