Maryland to Give Retroactive Coverage to People Failed by the Exchange

January 30, 2014

The Maryland Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a plan for the state to offer temporary, retroactive health insurance to residents unable to sign up through the state’s troubled online marketplace. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) sponsored the legislation and is scheduled to sign it into law Thursday morning.

The legislation will expand enrollment in a decade-old, state-run plan that was created to help people who had problems finding coverage because of preexisting conditions. This insurance will be offered as a last-resort option to Marylanders who tried to get coverage through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, encountered problems and were left uncovered when 2014 began.

“This bill represents an attempt to correct a wrong, to help people who through no fault of their own anticipated that they would have health-care coverage January 1, have health conditions, have big bills and need some help,” said Del. Peter A. Hammen (D-Baltimore), the chairman of the House’s Health and Government Operations Committee, which handled the emergency legislation.

State officials expect only a few hundred people to sign up, because the four insurance carriers involved with the state exchange have also offered retroactive coverage. Applicants must provide evidence of attempts to use the exchange and will have to pay a premium, which is typically more expensive than those offered through the exchange.

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