After Maryland’s healthcare enrollment website experienced problems last year, officials say there have been no reported problems so far this year. The enrollment period this year is three months, in comparison to last year’s six month period, said Andrew Ratner, director of marketing and outreach for the Maryland Health Connection. Getting residents enrolled within such […]
After Maryland’s healthcare enrollment website experienced problems last year, officials say there have been no reported problems so far this year.
The enrollment period this year is three months, in comparison to last year’s six month period, said Andrew Ratner, director of marketing and outreach for the Maryland Health Connection. Getting residents enrolled within such a small window can be a challenge, Ratner said, but things are running smoothly so far.
As of Nov. 18, Ratner said, 5,324 Maryland residents had started their applications for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Of those applications, 1,915 have already been completed.
People who enrolled last year must reenroll for the 2015 calendar year. Ratner suggests applying by Dec. 18 to get the best deal possible.
To avoid problems, Ratner said Maryland has modeled its website after Connecticut’s enrollment site. Many of the new features added to the state’s existing system aim to make self-enrollment through technology more accessible to residents. This push toward self-enrollment by computer prompted the state to work through glitches in last year’s website.
Since the Nov. 15 open enrollment period began, 81,000 different people have visited the site, MarylandHealthConnection.gov, according to Ratner.
This year, residents have been given access to anonymous browsing, allowing them to explore their health insurance options without providing the system with any identifiable information. “During the first week of anonymous browsing that officially began Nov. 9, more than 26,000 people ‘price shopped’ among the plans on the Maryland Health Exchange,” Ratner said.
It sometimes takes families a while to decide what coverage is best for them, Ratner said. Anonymous browsing encourages residents to create an account, look around, then come back and complete the application when they are ready, he said.
“The new system uses a commercial off-the-shelf rules engine to determine applicants’ eligibility for tax credits and public and private health insurance options,” Ratner said.
The website also provides new consumer information in both English and Spanish, and gives consumers the option of receiving notices about their coverage in the mail or electronically.
To handle a high volume of inquiries and provide better customer service, the state has trained 5,400 operators and technicians to man the call center, Ratner said.
In addition to the electronic self-enrollments, Maryland also hosts events for residents to attend and enroll at. There is an open enrollment event in Prince George’s County on Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex located at 7007 Bock Rd. in Fort Washington.
The first open enrollment event of the year on Nov. 15, attracted more than 200 consumers to Corkran Middle School.
“During the past year, 460,000 Marylanders have gotten health care through the Affordable Care Act,” Governor Martin O’Malley said. “Today, we took a great step forward to assisting thousands of more Marylanders find quality, affordable coverage.”
U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also encouraged people to enroll as soon as possible.
“If you have insurance from some other source, it’s still worth it to visit the site and browse the plans that are available to see if there is a higher quality, more affordable plan that’s right for you, your family, or your employees – and to see if you’re eligible for a tax credit that will lower your cost,” Hoyer said.
Feb. 15 is the last day for open enrollment.