MARYLAND HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


[photo, 750 East Pratt St., Baltimore, Maryland] To reduce the number of Maryland residents who have no health insurance, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange was established as a public corporation and an independent unit of State government in June 2011 (Chapter 2, Acts of 2011; Code Insurance Article, secs. 31-101 through 31-111).

750 East Pratt St., Baltimore, Maryland, November 2015. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


Maryland formed the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to meet requirements of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148), as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-152). The federal statute requires each state to establish a health benefit exchange by January 1, 2014 or choose one run by the federal government. Maryland chose to operate its own exchange, and received conditional federal approval of its marketplace governance and structure in December 2012.

To provide Marylanders with high quality, affordable private health plans at competitive prices, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange administers the State-based health insurance marketplace called Maryland Health Connection. Opened to enroll individuals on October 1, 2013, Maryland Health Connection helps individuals purchase qualified health plans in the individual insurance market. Also, since April 1, 2014, small business owners have been able to enroll their employees in health insurance plans certified under the Small Business Options Program (SHOP). Employers with from one to fifty employees may purchase insurance plans directly from a carrier, a third-party administrator, or a broker, and, for those who are eligible, receive federal small business tax credits.

Open enrollment for individual coverage starting January 1, 2018 will begin on November 1, 2017 and end on December 15, 2017.

For 2017, some 157,637 Marylanders are enrolled in private health insurance plans through the marketplace. Medicaid expansion authorized under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act covers an additional 274,159 individuals in Maryland.

The open enrollment period for individual coverage in 2017 began on November 1, 2016, and ended January 31, 2017. Those who had a qualified health plan through the Exchange in 2016, automatically were renewed in the same plan, or a similar plan if their plan changed.

During the open enrollment period, consumers were able to evaluate their health insurance options, including an estimate of financial assistance, on the Exchange website (www.marylandhealthconnection.gov).

CUSTOMER SUPPORT CENTER
The Customer Support Center may be reached by a toll-free hotline (1-855-642-8572), where certified navigators and insurance brokers are available to assist consumers. Since November 8, 2014, the public also has been able to enroll through Maryland Health Connection, the website of the State-based health insurance marketplace.


BOARD OF TRUSTEES

The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees. Six of the Board's members are appointed by the Governor to four-year terms, and three serve ex officio. With the approval of the Governor, the Board appoints the Executive Director (Code Insurance Article, secs. 3-104, 3-105).

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