State Working to Boost Enrollment in Maryland Health Benefit Exchange

Governor Martin O'Malley

Governor Martin O’Malley

Governor O’Malley and Lieutenant Governor Brown announced a series of actions Dec. 16 as part of continued efforts to help more Marylanders enroll in quality, affordable health plans.

First, they 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

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 nine major fixes have now been completed, but there is still a lot of work left to do,” Governor O’Malley said. “It is essential that we continue to step-up the pace of improvement of, and I am pleased that Optum/QSSI has joined the team to accelerate our progress.”

“The Governor and I have taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to solve this problem and I am encouraged by the tangible improvements we’ve made to the website,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “While we have work left to do, the addition of Optum/QSSI brings more resources and expertise to the team and will allow us to continue expanding quality and affordable care to more Marylanders through the exchange.”

In addition to bringing in Optum/QSSI, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor announced several other steps to boost enrollment:

1. Extending the enrollment deadline: CareFirst has agreed to allow Maryland to extend the enrollment deadline from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27. This means that Marylanders who enroll through Maryland Health Connection in a CareFirst plan by December 27 can have coverage that begins on January 1; consumers would have until January 15 to pay for their coverage. State officials are actively discussing this possibility with our other carriers as well.
2. Adding call center hours: In the lead up to the enrollment deadline, health exchange officials will keep the call center open longer to maximize phone assistance to consumers.
3. Targeting outreach to consumers: 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.
“I look forward to working with Optum/QSSI as we make necessary improvements and enhancements to help Marylanders obtain insurance coverage,” said Isabel Fitzgerald, Secretary of the Department of Information Technology, who is leading Maryland’s IT efforts on health reform.
“We are honored to support the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange in its effort to provide state residents the service they need to shop for and purchase health coverage,” said Andy Slavitt, group executive vice president of Optum/QSSI.
“Optum/QSSI will work closely with staff from the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to address challenges, improve outreach, and increase enrollment,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, chair of the board of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

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