Maryland bans health insurers from dropping policy holders for non-payment

Maryland Health Exchange educates residents about open enrollment, Nov. 1 to Dec. 15
Posted at 10:43 AM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 09:32:06-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland's Insurance Commissioner, Kathleen A. Birrane, have slapped a 60-day ban on health insurers, preventing them from canceling or refusing to renew plans for policy holders who've not yet paid their premiums or deductibles.

Birrane acknowledged that insurance companies have been cooperating and deferring payments throughout the pandemic, but said the move needed to be made.

“The Hogan Administration has taken this step to help keep Marylanders who are struggling to pay their health insurance premium covered during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Commissioner Birrane said.

Special enrollment for Maryland's Health Benefit Exchange ended July 15, meaning those who would have lost their insurance on July 31, would of had to wait for the next special enrollment or open enrollment period next year to be insured.

“We acted to give people breathing space and will allow cancellations to resume in a reasonable period of time after that replacement option becomes available again,” Commissioner Birrane said.

The ban applies only to health plans through Maryland's Health Connection and some policies purchased directly from an insurance company. It does not apply to group insurance policies, through an employer.

“If you are insured under an individual/family policy, have not paid your premium and you received a letter warning you that your policy would terminate on or after July 31, your insurance will stay in effect and you are still covered,” Commissioner Birrane said. “Because of this emergency action, the termination will not happen and you will still have that insurance while the suspension is in effect.”

Health insurance policies can however be terminated for reasons other than unpaid premiums. One example is if someone moves out of the service area or a dependent child reaches age 26.

For those losing their coverage for reasons unrelated to premiums, contact the Maryland Health Connection at 1-855-642-8572 to see if you qualify for a new plan.

The ban will be reassessed in two months to determine if an extension is needed.