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As enrollment in the health insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act draws near, health officials are trying to spread the word about the new plan.

Beginning Oct. 1 through March 31 individuals can enroll in Medicaid and qualified health plans by phone, mail or in person through the Maryland Health Connection. Those who enroll by Dec. 15 may be insured beginning in January.

Calvert Healthcare Solutions Executive Director Michael Shaw explained last week that enrollment for the qualified health plans is only open until March 31, and after that, anyone wishing to enroll will have to wait until the next open enrollment, scheduled to begin in October 2014. A life event, such as marriage or the birth of a child, may also qualify someone for enrollment outside of the open enrollment dates.

Those wishing to enroll in Medicaid can enroll at any time as long as they meet the requirements, Shaw said.

Maryland Health Connection is a marketplace for people to compare health insurance options and enroll in a plan to fit their individual needs. A qualified health plan through MHC is a private or commercial health insurance plan offered by an insurance company that is licensed and is in good standing with the state and that covers essential health benefits.

In May, MHC announced the connector program, and Calvert Healthcare Solutions was chosen as the connector for Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties. Calvert Healthcare Solutions will assist with educating the public, outreach services, awareness, enrollment procedures, eligibility and enrollment.

Shaw said the organization is partnering with Health Partners in Charles County, Walden Sierra in St. Mary’s County and Greater Baden Medical Services in both counties.

Shaw said there are 25 different plans offered and the connector’s navigators will help residents determine if they qualify and what plan suits their needs best.

Shaw’s presentation to the Calvert County commissioners said the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, targets residents 19 to 64 who are not disabled as per Medicaid standards. Eligibility for a qualified health care plan or Medicaid is determined by the applicant’s age, household size and income.

“It’s worth everybody’s time to give Healthcare Solutions a call and visit their website to see what they offer,” Dr. Laurence Polsky, Calvert County’s health officer, said.

“Despite all the problems in the housing market over the last several years, still the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country is because of debt incurred from health problems,” Polsky said. “People don’t have insurance, they get sick, they get into a car crash, appendix ruptures, and they end up going bankrupt. They lose their car, they lose their house, anything they were saving for their kids’ education. So having people now be able to afford insurance not only makes a difference in their day-to-day lives, but may make a big difference for their family’s security down the road.”



To learn more

For more information, contact Calvert Healthcare Solutions toll free at 855-339-3007, online at www.calverthealthcare.org or by email at info@calverthealthcare.org. For more information about the Maryland Health Connection, go to www.marylandhealthconnection.gov.



ascott@somdnews.com