Maryland health care exchange could see 360k customers in year two

Some 180,000 people could buy health insurance through a state-run exchange in 2014 and that figure could double the following year, Maryland health officials told a Senate committee Thursday. Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration is backing legislation to firm up more aspects of the exchange mandated by President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Determining the way the state will pay for the exchange, however, will wait until next year, the officials said. Rebecca Pearce, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said initial estimates indicate the exchange would cost $30 to $40 million to run in the first year and between $45 million and $60 million in the second. The exchange's board of trustees recommended the state examine both "broad-based" health industry fees and transaction-based "user fees" to pay for the exchange. Maryland officials expect to receive federal dollars to run the exchange in 2014. The system must be self-sustaining in 2015.

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