Managers of Maryland’s public exchange are trying to give consumers as much time to enroll as possible without pushing back the March 31 deadline.
The board of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange has set up a telephone hotline at (800) 396-1961.
Consumers who start an application for individual “qualified health plan” coverage through the Maryland Health Connection enrollment website can let hotline reps know about their problems.
If consumers ask for help, the exchange will let them enroll in coverage that will take effect May 1, even though the applications will be completed after March 31.
Maryland gave its state-based Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange enthusiastic support, but it’s since had serious problems with its website and other operations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has announced plans to investigate what went wrong.
The exchange had helped a total of 40,693 people enroll in commercial plan coverage as of March 8, but growth has been much slower than in Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage.
Consumers can enroll in Medicaid and plan coverage through an exchange after March 31, and exchanges can sell small group plans after that date.
Consumers can still buy individual plan coverage after March 31 if they go through a major life change, such as a marriage or the loss of a job, or if they can show that they qualify for a hardship exemption.
Consumers who do not qualify for a special enrollment period may not have a chance to buy major medical coverage again until the 2015 open enrollment period, which is now set to start Nov. 15.