Health Information Exchange Featured Article

August 27, 2012

Maryland Moving Ahead on Developing Health Insurance Exchange

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration on Thursday released the name, logo and Web site for a new state government unit created to let residents purchase health insurance plans next year under the Affordable Care Act.

Maryland Health Connection will begin open enrollment in October 2013.

More than 100,000 Marylanders are expected to purchase insurance through the site next year, with that number growing to more than 250,000 within five years. This month Maryland was awarded a $123-million federal grant to launch its health insurance exchange (HIX).

The first state-subsidized plans will become effective in January 2014, according to Aaron C. Davis.

Sixteen states have established health insurance exchanges under the law recently upheld by the Supreme Court. Another 16 are studying plans to do so, and seven states have decided not to offer such exchanges, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Davis revealed.

Residents in states that do not set up exchanges will have one set up for them by the federal government.  

The exchanges are supposed to create online marketplaces in each state where residents and small businesses can compare available health plans, see if they are eligible for tax credits and enroll in health plans.

Each state is dealing with the establishment of HIXs differently. Seven states and the District of Columbia have begun selecting and negotiating with some health insurance providers for the plans that will be offered on their sites, Davis reported. Other states will let the sites act as a clearinghouse, allowing all qualified insurance companies in their states to market plans.

Maine, Texas, Alaska, Wyoming, Louisiana and Florida are some of the states choosing not to set up HIXs for their residents. Connecticut announced Saturday that it was moving ahead with its plans to launch a HIX.

The federal funding has been a boon for professional services firms, the Washington Post recently reported. Like other states, Maryland has awarded tens of millions of dollars in contracts to firms to study and help create its exchange.

Edited by Braden Becker