BALTIMORE (WMAR) — There are just 8 days left to take advantage of special enrollment options for affordable health insurance.
Today, state and local leaders came together for a virtual to stress why it’s so important for the whole community to be aware.
"It's more important in this moment than ever for all of our citizens to have access to health care," said Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott.
Because of the amount of Marylanders who lost their jobs and employer-sponsored benefits, there are two special opportunities to enroll in affordable health insurance by July 15.
"We want to see 100% or adults and 100% of children [with health insurance]. Why? Because the healthier my neighbors are, the healthier I’m gonna be," said Congressman Steny Hoyer.
"If the nightmare or the coronavirus crisis has taught us nothing else, it’s that my health is linked to your health and we need everyone in the system together," said Congressman Jamie Raskin.
The first opportunity is a special open enrollment through Maryland Health Connection, offering free and low cost premiums.
To date, over 40,000 people have signed up and about 65% have been eligible for Medicaid, which is free. The rest qualified for private commercial insurance.
"Of those in the private commercial insurance, 70% have gotten some form of financial assistance so the coverage has been affordable for people to get," said Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.
Eberle said nearly half of the people taking advantage of the enrollment are under age 34 and/ or are from the areas hardest hit by COVID-19.
"We’ve really been able to get health insurance into the communities where it's needed," said Eberle.
The second option is the new Easy Enrollment Health Insurance program for Marylanders who are filing their income tax returns before the extended July 15 tax filing deadline.
On the state income tax form, filers can agree to have the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange inform them about their affordable health insurance eligibility.
"The exchange will look and find if you’re eligible for medicaid, if you’re eligible for federal tax credits to help you get health insurance for you and your family. It’s such a good idea that a bunch of states are looking at modeling Marylands' easy enrollment program," said Sen. Brian Feldman.
Eberle said this option is helping address racial disparities brought to light by the pandemic. Over 50,000 people have checked this box to start this process and one third have been in the African American community.
"That’s really critical because we are meeting a need where there has not been a solution," said Eberle.
Today, local leaders underscoring the need to look into these options and encourage your neighbors, friends and family to do so too.
"It’s quite possible that there’s something that you can afford even in this time when you really don’t want to be purchasing anything but in the long run, it’s going to be what your family needs. It's going to be what you need," said Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman.