Maryland: 200K gained healthcare coverage during 2020 & 2021 COVID SEP

Maryland Health Connection

via Maryland Health Connection:

200,000 MARYLANDERS GAINED HEALTH COVERAGE THROUGH THE CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL ENROLLMENT

  • Special enrollment in response to pandemic ran from March 2020 to August 2021

(BALTIMORE) — A total of 201,141 Marylanders enrolled through the Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment on Maryland Health Connection from March 16, 2020 to its conclusion on Aug. 15, 2021.

The numbers here are certainly good news and pretty impressive, but it's really, really important to keep that start date in mind when looking at them.

The 17-month special enrollment in response to the pandemic was one of the longest of any state in the country. It was extended several times in 2020 and 2021 as the emergency continued. In all:

  • 126,278 enrolled in Medicaid (63%)
  • 54,402 enrolled in private plans and qualified for financial help (27%)
  • 20,460 enrolled in private plans without financial help (10%)

OK, that's a total of 74,862 QHP selections from March 16, 2020 - August 15, 2021...not including the actual 2021 Open Enrollment Period itself.

The Medicaid increase is also great to see, although Medicaid enrollment is always year-round so that's not quite as eye-opening.

“We are pleased that so many Marylanders were able to enroll in affordable health coverage at a difficult time,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which administers the state’s 10-year-old health insurance marketplace. “We appreciate the support of Governor Hogan, the Maryland Insurance Administration and our partner insurance providers for supporting this response to the public health threat.”

Among communities that were hard hit by the impact, young-adult enrollments (ages 18-34) totaled 69,749 throughout the special enrollment. Enrollees self-reported as Black totaled 60,555 and as Hispanic totaled 25,892.

In total, more than 1.3 million Marylanders are currently covered through Maryland Health Connection -- about 1.2 million in Medicaid and more than 165,000 in private coverage, nearly 80 percent qualifying for financial help. That’s up 12 percent compared to before the pandemic. More data is available at MarylandHBE.com

There were 154,815 Maryland residents enrolled in effectuated ACA exchange policies as of February 2021, so that's around ~10,200 additional enrollees during the 2021 portion of Maryland's COVID SEP. It's actually likely a bit higher than that (perhaps 12K - 13K?) when you take into account attrition over the past six months or so.

The next opportunity for Marylanders to enroll in private health insurance through Maryland Health Connection will begin Nov. 1, 2021 for the 2022 coverage year. Special enrollment is always available for people who have certain life changes. Eligible Marylanders may enroll in Medicaid any time of year. Last year, 9 out of 10 who enrolled got financial help to lower the cost of their coverage.

Next year, many will be eligible for new, lower costs because of the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Those who previously did not qualify for financial help for private insurance due to higher income will now be eligible. Also, for the first time, Maryland will offer additional premium assistance for adults ages 19-34, so that they will pay even less for private health plans.

For information, visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov or download the Enroll MHC mobile app. Free help is available by calling 855-642-8572, and more than 700 trained brokers and navigators are available to help by phone and virtually.