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Healthcare coverage from WYPR is made possible by support from GBMC HealthCare.

Deadline near for health insurance open enrollment

Credit: Edwintp/Pxhere
Credit: Edwintp/Pxhere

If you don’t have health insurance, Maryland’s open enrollment period is extended this year. Until Jan. 15, you can sign up for a private insurance plan that starts on Feb. 1.

Michele Eberle is the executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange which operates the state’s health insurance marketplace Maryland Health Connection.

Eberle said with the cost of a few coffee drinks a month, you can get really comprehensive health insurance this year, thanks to new state and federal laws. The American Rescue Plan Act has expanded eligibility for plans, and there’s also a state subsidy for younger adults aged 18 to 34.

“We've heard over and over people saying I just can't afford it. And when I have to pick between buying food, paying my mortgage, paying my rent, getting health insurance, it gets dropped to the bottom,” Eberle said. “So that's why we worked really hard over several years to get those prices low.”

She said an adult of 28 making a little more than $30,000 a year can get coverage for about $9 a month.

“That's huge. I mean, that's not a lot to pay for health care coverage that not only covers you to go to the emergency room, to your physicians, to get mental health services, covers your prescriptions, but also has wellness coverage,” Eberle said.

Wellness coverage, she said, includes vaccinations, mammograms, annual wellness visits, colonoscopies and cancer screenings.

Even if you didn’t qualify for an affordable plan in previous years, Eberle said there’s a good chance that this year, you do. And she said it’s especially important to get covered this year.

“You think you don't need health insurance, and oftentimes people feel like well, I'm healthy. I'm young. I don't need health insurance. But we never know. I mean, look at the pandemic,” she said. “We never know when something's going to come up.”

If you’re looking for a plan through Maryland Health Connection and need assistance, you can visit their website or call 855-642-8572.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.