Enrollment slows, but new insurance option introduced

The pace of enrollment on Maryland Health Connection has slowed in recent weeks, with 1,655 new people signing up between Jan. 19 and Jan. 25, bringing the total to 26,832 enrollees.
health exchangeA month ago, enrollment was increasing at a much brisker pace — with as many as 6,542 people enrolling in one week — as the Dec. 31 deadline to buy coverage that would begin on Jan. 1 approached. The following week, interest plummeted, with about 2,000 people signing up.

The pace has continued to slow since then, which makes sense, as there are still two more months left in open enrollment. We’ll probably see another mad rush during the final week of March.

But another wrench has been thrown into the mix that might soon cause a spike in the numbers.

The General Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill that would provide emergency “bridge” coverage to people who were unable to buy a plan from the glitchy exchange. Those people can enroll in the Maryland Health Insurance Plan (MHIP) — a state-run program that catered to high-risk individuals and was supposed to be phased out.

MHIP will cover those individuals — retroactively to Jan. 1 — until they are able to secure another plan.

The cost of the program was initially estimated to be between $5 million and $12 million, but the exact cost is unclear because it depends on how many Marylanders choose to enroll in MHIP. It could be anywhere between 200 and 5,000 people.

Another option, which is no longer available, was for people to seek retroactive coverage from the insurance carriers. 

Officials say 1,407 households took advantage of that option.  



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