Congrats, health care procrastinators: Maryland residents who want to sign up for health insurance for 2018 through the state marketplace now have an extra week to do so. The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE) extended its open enrollment period through Dec. 22. Anyone who signs up for a plan by then can get health coverage starting Jan. 1.
MHBE is also expanding call center hours through Dec. 22 for anyone who needs assistance signing up for health insurance. MHBE administers the Maryland Health Connection, the state-based marketplace for residents to shop and enroll in health insurance. Residents can sign up on MarylandHealthConnection.gov or the Enroll MHC mobile app.
"While enrollments have been very strong so far this year, we want to ensure that everyone in Maryland in need of 2018 health coverage has additional time to shop and enroll," said Howard Taft, MHBE interim executive director.
An extra week
Maryland had initially matched the 45-day period set by the Trump administration for purchasing health insurance on the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov. But states with their own exchanges can also extend the deadline. About 140,000 people have signed up for private health plans in the state, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The exchanges opened Nov. 1 for people seeking 2018 plans. While many people on the federal exchange must still sign up by the Dec. 15 deadline, some states, like Maryland, have extended their deadlines to later in December and even January. People living in areas affected by hurricanes also have extra time to sign up.
Signups have been robust nationwide. Nearly 4.7 million people had enrolled through the federal exchange through Dec. 9, as signups continue to outpace last year's rates. However, open enrollment is ending in two days and is much shorter than last year's signup period, which went through Jan. 31.
Image: Cathy Yeulet