Md. Emphasizes Need to Re-enroll in Health Plans - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Md. Emphasizes Need to Re-enroll in Health Plans

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - About a quarter of Maryland residents who need to re-enroll in the state's health insurance marketplace to get their correct subsidies by Jan. 1 have done so, Maryland officials said Wednesday. Now, they are urging the rest of roughly 66,000 individuals who enrolled earlier to sign up again before next week's deadline to get coverage by the first of the year.

Rep. Steny Hoyer and Carolyn Quattrocki, the head of the state's health care exchange, gave an update on progress since the second enrollment period began Nov. 15. All Maryland residents who signed up for plans in the badly flawed first enrollment period are being urged to do so again, partly because new plans are being offered and people could find a better deal. Residents also are being urged to sign up again to ensure they receive the right subsidies for Jan. 1 coverage. About 80 percent of people who signed up from 48,000 households receive subsidies, Quattrocki said.

"We've probably gotten about a quarter of them through so far, so we have more to go, but we're pleased with the response so far," Quattrocki said, adding that the state expects many more to enroll as Maryland's Dec. 18 deadline approaches for coverage Jan. 1.

People who don't enroll before the deadline will still be eligible for subsidies, but they won't be able to get them in time to help pay monthly bills unless they re-enroll.

Both Hoyer, D-Md., and Quattrocki emphasized that the state's redesigned website is working far better than the one in the first enrollment period, when the website crashed just after opening on Oct. 1 of last year.

"It really is night and day," Quattrocki said.

As of Monday, about 65,325 residents had enrolled since the second enrollment period began, either in private plans or Medicaid. About 37,000 of them have enrolled in private plans. Hoyer said that's roughly 29 times better than the 1,300 who enrolled over the same period of the first rollout.

In addition to the revamped website, the state is holding a total of about 25 sign-up fairs, where people can get in-person assistance. More than a dozen more are scheduled. Four are set for this weekend to help as the state transitions to the new system.

"Obviously, this year in Maryland, we went from one system to another system, so it requires a transition, but we are hopeful - I am hopeful - that going forward it will be as simple as simply saying, 'I want to sign up for what I had,'" Hoyer said.

Quattrocki said the state continues to cooperate with a federal investigation and a separate state audit into problems from the first enrollment period.

In February, the state fired Noridian Healthcare Solutions, the state's prime information technology contractor on the flawed exchange website. Neither Quattrocki nor Hoyer had details about what the state is doing to recoup money.

Hoyer said the good news is that the state's system has been fixed.

"The bad news was that the original rollout was a failed rollout and of great disappointment, and it cost us some money, but I don't know what the status (is) of getting from the contractor reimbursement for the failure," Hoyer said.

Quattrocki said the state's insurance drop-out rate is about the same as the national average. Maryland had about 80,000 enroll in private plans in the first enrollment period, and about 66,000 of them are currently in coverage.

The second enrollment period ends Feb. 15.
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