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Md. Health Connection enrollment climbs, but long way to go

Maryland Health Connection is chugging along, despite continued reports of technical difficulties on the state-run health insurance exchange. As of Friday, there were twice as many households enrolled in one of those plans as a week ago, bringing the total number of enrollees to 2,393 — according to figures released Friday by Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the entity that operates the online marketplace.

Here are the other highlights from MHBE’s weekly report on enrollment and usage (as of Oct. 18 at 12 a.m.):

Since the exchange opened on Oct. 1, there have been:

261,139 unique web visitors

25,149 calls to the call center

34,862 accounts created

23,141 households that learned their eligibility status

So, about 35,000 people have so far shown an interest in signing up. Not to be a sour grape, but that leaves a long way to go until reaching 150,000 (which is the low estimate for the number of people state officials hope to sign up within the first year).

But people procrastinate, and open enrollment runs through March 31. Plus, I’m sure plenty are waiting to check it out until they stop hearing about all those technical glitches.

Speaking of which, the report also said IT workers are “continuing to make changes every day to address technical issues” with They are implementing “a number of additional steps to improve performance,” the report said, and they plan to update the system’s software “in the near future.”

MHBE officials also used the report as an excuse to promote the state’s expansion of Medicaid. Under the Affordable Care Act, states were given the option of expanding the federally subsidized program to cover more people . So far, 24 states and Washington, D.C. have opted to do so. The federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs of expanding the program through 2016. After that, Uncle Sam will cover 90 percent of the costs of expanding.

The expansion means up to 251,000 more Marylanders will be eligible for the program, according to advocacy organization Families USA.

Additionally, according to the MHBE’s report, 82,473 Maryland residents currently enrolled in the Primary Adult Care program (a limited-benefit option offered through Medicaid since 2006) will be automatically switched over to receive more comprehensive Medicaid coverage, which will take effect Jan. 1.