By Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive
Throughout these past two years, it’s been even more clear how vital healthcare is to our residents. Amid the pandemic, many people knew that if they got sick or injured, they might not be able to afford the care they need.
Healthcare and being healthy extend beyond the threat of COVID-19 – I want everybody in Howard County and across Maryland to have access to affordable and quality healthcare. That’s why I was pleased that the state recently extended the deadline to sign up for health insurance on the state’s online exchange until Feb. 28.
Anyone who needs insurance should go to marylandhealthconnection.gov and explore multiple options for coverage. Trained counselors are available to walk you through the process, answer questions and help you decide on a plan that fits your needs and budget.
Last fall, I hosted an event attended by several of my fellow county executives, as well as representatives from the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which oversees our online insurance marketplace and leaders of the statewide advocacy group, the HealthCare for All! Coalition. Each of us made it a priority to promote open enrollment to our constituents.
The results have been phenomenal. As of Jan. 15, the state saw a 9.4% increase in the number of people who signed up for insurance, compared to last year.
Here in Howard County, we had a 9.6% increase in enrollment over the previous year.
I am proud that our county has one of the lowest rates of people who are uninsured. However, too many in our community and across Maryland remain uninsured, and we still have work to do. I am urging everyone who doesn’t have insurance to go online, do their research and get insured before the Feb. 28 deadline.
As you look for coverage you may be surprised at the cost of premiums. In some cases, coverage is free; for many others, public subsidies make the cost of health insurance affordable. Nine out of 10 people who sign up for insurance on the state exchange get some subsidies.
This year, we have been focused on young adults, the age group most likely to not have health coverage. In response the state created new subsidies this year to bring down the cost of health insurance for young adults. Now, more people ages 18-34 are able to get plans for as little as $1 per month based on factors like income and household size.
Helping neighbors, friends, and family to sign up is good for all of us. The more people who get insured, the better off we all are. As more people are insured, our health system doesn’t have to provide as much uncompensated care and costs can come down for everyone.
We have made great progress in Maryland the past several years at getting people insured and guaranteeing they have access to good care. Let’s use this extended open enrollment period to keep up the momentum and make our county and state healthier.