Maryland Extends ACA Enrollment Deadline
Following an announcement Dec. 16 that CareFirst agreed to allow Maryland to extend the deadline by which individuals and families must enroll in order to be covered on Jan. 1, Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown announced Dec. 17 that all other medical insurance carriers participating in Maryland Health Connection have agreed to allow deadline extensions as well.
All carriers have agreed to allow Maryland to extend the enrollment deadline from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27. This means that Marylanders who enroll in a Qualified Health Plan through Maryland Health Connection by Dec. 27 can have coverage that begins on Jan. 1; consumers would have until Jan. 15 to pay for their coverage. Medical carriers participating in Maryland Health Connection include CareFirst, Kaiser Permanente, United Healthcare and Evergreen Health Co-Op.
To improve the trajectory of the project, Governor O’Malley and Lieutenant Governor Brown recently changed the leadership structure for the IT portion of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange and asked Isabel FitzGerald, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Information Technology, to lead the IT effort. Under Sec. FitzGerald’s leadership, the State just days ago announced that it met Governor O’Malley’s mid-December deadline for fixing nine major issues with the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange website. Those nine fixes were focused on many of the challenges that were causing users the most frustration.
The improvements to the site are reflected in unofficial daily data. Based on preliminary data, yesterday saw a record high number of plan selections in MarylandHealthConnection.gov, surpassing the record set last Friday when IT teams completed fixing nine major issues that were responsible for a majority of the issues that were negatively affecting users.
“We know the improvements to MarylandHealthConnection.gov are making a difference because we are seeing more and more people successfully completing the process every day,” Gov. O’Malley said. “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.”
“As we continue to improve the website’s functionality, we are working to make it easier for Marylanders to get health care by working with the insurance community to extend the deadline for Marylanders to sign up for coverage on Jan. 1st,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “While we still have work to do, we’re committed to expanding access to quality affordable care.”
Yesterday, the Administration announced that the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange has brought in Optum/QSSI—a Columbia, Maryland company—to improve the overall performance of the website. The company will focus on enhancing the consumer experience by providing end-to-end project management and operational support, as well as technological assessment and recommendations.
Optum/QSSI is the general contractor that the federal government called upon in October to work with CMS and other vendors to enhance the stability and performance of the federal government’s HealthCare.gov.
Also yesterday, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor announced that in the lead up to the enrollment deadline, health exchange officials will keep the call center open longer to maximize phone assistance to consumers. In addition, through blast emails, regular mail, and robo-calls, health exchange officials are contacting consumers who have begun, but not completed, the application process to let them know how to complete their eligibility determinations and enrollment.