Maryland has been one of most enthusiastic supporters of the federal health-care law, moving quickly to set up its own insurance marketplace — the Maryland Health Connection — and to procure millions of federal dollars to build and promote the exchange.
The state is teaming up with the Baltimore Ravens to urge uninsured people to sign up for coverage and is partnering with Giant Food, Safeway and CVS to provide information about enrollment in stores across the state. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are part of a campaign to educate consumers about Obamacare.
An estimated 14 percent of Marylanders, or 800,000 people, are uninsured. Nearly 222,000 of them live in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Officials hope 180,000 people sign up for private insurance in the first year and expect an additional 100,000 to enroll in the state’s expanded Medicaid program, which takes effect Jan. 1. Adults earning up to about $15,856 a year, or a family of four earning up to $32,499, will qualify for Medicaid.
Nearly four dozen medical plans will be sold on the exchange by six carriers including CareFirst BlueChoice of Maryland, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, All Savers and a new entrant, Evergreen Health Cooperative.
Insurance regulators gave these examples of potential premiums for nonsmoking Marylanders in the D.C. area:
●A 25-year-old would face monthly premiums ranging from $115 for a CareFirst BlueChoice policy to $237 for an All Savers plan in the “bronze” category. (Bronze plans have lower monthly premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs than policies labeled silver, gold and platinum.)
●A 50-year-old might pay $278 a month for a CareFirst BlueChoice “silver” plan — a notch up from a bronze policy — and up to $470 for an All Savers plan.
These estimates don’t take subsidies into account, so the actual cost to many consumers would be lower. Officials figure that three out of four of the newly insured will get subsidies.
Unlike many other state exchanges, the Maryland marketplace won’t be open until January for companies with up to 50 full-time employees to shop for plans for their workers.
People who need help can go to www.marylandhealthconnection.gov or call 855-642-8572 (TTY: 855-642-8573). The call center staff has Spanish speakers and has arranged to handle questions in 200 other languages. The center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. During open enrollment, it will be open weekdays until 8 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Maryland is training about 5,000 people to help with outreach and enrollment. They include health and social service workers, insurance brokers, consumer guides known as “navigators” and others. A network of consumer assistance groups is being set up to provide one-on-one help. People can go to the Maryland Health Connection Web site to find a local “connector.”