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Exchange name: Maryland Health Connection
State-based or federally run: Maryland Health Connection is among the 17 declared state-based health insurance exchanges, which include Washington, D.C.
Plans: Maryland Health Connection offers more than 80 individual major medical health insurance and dental plans. Coverage is available to individuals and families, as well as small business employees.
All major medical plans sold through Maryland Health Connection are considered minimum essential coverage that fulfills the Affordable Care Act’s individual responsibility requirement in 2014. Coverage includes preventive care and services within the 10 essential health benefits categories. It is sold according to the four metal levels —bronze, silver, gold and platinum. A catastrophic plan is available to those under 30 as well as those who qualify due to financial hardship
To learn more about benefits and see which plan options they qualify for, Marylanders must create an account at marylandhealthconnection.gov. Maryland Health Connection reported that as of Nov. 1, 2014, 4,500 residents had enrolled in coverage through Maryland Health Connection.
Rates: Those interested in their benefits options and rates must visit Maryland Health Connection’s Citizen Portal to set up an account. Once they have done so, they can learn what coverage is available to them and what monthly premium rates may be based on factors such as geographic location and applicant age. A key Obamacare starting in 2014 mandates that insurers cannot deny coverage or charge more due to health history or preexisting conditions. These provisions apply whether plans are purchased via the marketplace or not.
Consumers may use online calculators to estimate their Obamacare premium subsidy, which is based on household income. The healthedeals.com Health Care Reform Calculator, which was listed among The Financial Times “Best Online Tools for the Toughest Health Questions,” can help those planning to buy from an exchange calculate their Obamacare health insurance cost and tax credit.
Marylanders—and all Americans—can enroll in exchange-based coverage whether or not they qualify for tax credits and other subsidies.
Consumer assistance: Buying health insurance coverage is a major decision and financial commitment. Maryland residents with questions about enrolling through the Maryland Health Connection website can call 855-642-8572—and 855-642-8573, if deaf or hard of hearing. Those who need help enrolling or finding the right coverage have access to navigators and assisters; a list divided by region can be found at marylandhealthconnection.gov.
Need coverage now? A short-term medical insurance plan is an option for those who need health insurance until their new coverage kicks in Jan. 1, 2014, or later. Temporary insurance plan can provide coverage for as few as 30 days. Start shopping on healthedeals.com or contact a healthedeals.com sales consultant at 866-645-6630 for more information on short-term health insurance and supplemental plans.
Additional coverage options: Consumers in all states are wise to consider additional protection. For instance, a bundled gap plan that includes coverages such as accident medical expense insurance and accident disability income insurance pays lump-sum cash benefits when a qualifying event occurs and can help create more comprehensive benefits like those offered through an employer. A critical illness insurance plan pays out lump-sum cash benefits upon diagnosis of certain illnesses that can be used for everything from medical bills to childcare.
Supplemental insurance is not available through state-based or federally operated health insurance exchanges and do not qualify for Obamacare premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies. However, these plans come in designs to fit various household budgets, and they easy to obtain directly from the plan’s carrier or a licensed agent or broker.
Jenifer Dorsey is a freelance writer whose specialties include health and fitness, wellness, sports and recreation. She is a competitive amateur track cyclist who also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping and other outdoor adventure. Jenifer received a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and is an MFA candidate at Naropa University. She lives in Colorado.