Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange?
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE) is a public corporation and independent unit of the State government established in April 2011 in accordance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Exchange has a nine member board of trustees that includes the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland Insurance Commissioner, and the Executive Director of the Maryland Health Care Commission. The MHBE is responsible for the administration of the Maryland Health Connection.
Why has Maryland established the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange?
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states must have a health insurance exchange in place by January 1, 2014. Exchanges can be developed and implemented by the state or by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Maryland has chosen to develop a state-based exchange that meets the unique needs of Maryland’s residents.
What is Maryland Health Connection?
Maryland Health Connection is a new marketplace that will offer health insurance and coverage options to individuals, families, and small employers. This marketplace or “exchange” is called Maryland Health Connection. The MHBE administers the marketplace which will include a call center and navigator program to provide in-person assistance statewide.
When will Maryland Health Connection open? When can people begin enrolling for coverage?
Maryland Health Connection is scheduled to open for enrollment in October 2013. Coverage for qualified health plans (QHPs) will be effective beginning in January 2014.
How many people are expected to enroll for coverage beginning in 2014?
An estimated 150,000 individuals are expected to enroll in QHPs during the first year, increasing to approximately 275,000 by 2020.
Who will be served by the state-based health insurance exchange in Maryland?
Maryland Health Connection will serve individual Maryland residents as well as employers with up to 50 employees. It will provide health insurance coverage options including access to public assistance programs such as Medicaid and Maryland’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (MCHP) as well as QHPs offered by private insurance carriers.
Will health insurance be more affordable through Maryland Health Connection?
Marylanders who qualify will receive financial assistance to pay their insurance premiums. Individuals with incomes up to $44,680, and families of four with incomes up to $92,200 will be eligible for assistance.
In addition, small businesses offering health insurance to their workers may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit offered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help cover premium costs. You can learn more on the IRS website.
Are health insurance exchanges new?
The concept of health insurance exchanges has been around for many years. Several states have active health insurances exchanges, including Massachusetts and Utah. Massachusetts launched The Connector in 2007, which sells health plans to individuals and small businesses; Utah established a small business health insurance exchange in 2009. A nonprofit exchange operates in New York. California offers CaliforniaChoice, a small group exchange.
How is the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange being funded?
Maryland has received four federal grants to support the implementation of a state-based exchange through the ACA, totaling $157.5 million. In August 2012, Maryland received a Level Two Establishment grant for $123 million to continue implementation of the eligibility and enrollment system, consumer assistance, outreach and education, operations, and administration. Grants totaling $34.4 million cover research, planning, information technology development, and implementation, including a Planning grant for $1 million for initial research and planning, a $6.2 million Early Innovator grant to design and implement an information technology (IT) model that could also serve as a model for other states. A $27.7 million Level One Establishment grant allows for policy development, planning, technology and operational infrastructure, and the IT platform.