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Deadline extended to enroll in health care in Md.

ANNAPOLIS — Insurance carriers participating in Maryland’s health care exchange have extended the deadline for individuals and families to enroll in order to be covered Jan. 1, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Tuesday.

State residents who enroll in a qualified health plan through Maryland Health Connection by Dec. 27 can have coverage that begins Jan. 1. The previous deadline was Dec. 23. Consumers would have until Jan. 15 to pay for their coverage.

On Monday, Carefirst announced it would extend the deadline to Dec. 27, and other insurance carriers also have agreed to the later deadline, including Kaiser Permanente, United Healthcare and Evergreen Health Co-op.

The deadline extension comes as Maryland’s exchange has had computer problems since its debut on Oct. 1. O’Malley told reporters Monday that nine major problems have been addressed, but that some computer glitches continue.

O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown recently changed the leadership structure for the information technology portion of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. Isabel FitzGerald, the secretary of the Maryland Department of Information Technology, is leading the effort.

“We know the improvements to are making a difference because we are seeing more and more people successfully completing the process every day,” O’Malley said in a statement. “We will continue making improvements to the site, and we are pleased that all carriers have agreed to extend the deadline for coverage so that we can continue to work toward our goal of helping more Marylanders access quality, affordable coverage.”

On Monday, the O’Malley administration announced that Columbia-based Optum/QSSI has been brought in to improve the overall performance of the website.