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Affordable healthcare enrollment up through Maryland

  • Published in State

Maryland HBE logoNew enrollment in the state healthcare exchange is up 15 percent according to numbers from state officials.

On Nov.1, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the state healthcare exchange that started after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act and allows residents to buy a subsided health insurance plan, opened for enrollment. 5,122 new people enrolled in the state exchange from Nov. 1 to Nov. 6, compared to last year’s number of 3,478 – a 15 percent increase.

Total enrollment, which combines the number of new enrollees with those who manually renewed their plans, is up 100 percent with 10, 420 people enrolling or reenrolling Nov.1 to Nov. 6 compared to 5,212 last year at the same time. The number does not count the 120,000 people participating in the exchange who automatically had their plans renewed.

“It’s been a very good first week of enrollment both at the state and nationally,” said Andrew Ratner, chief marketing officer for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

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Going UP!

  • Published in State

Local healthcare prices skyrocket as Trump tries to kill ACA

MIA logoMarylanders getting “Silver” plans from the state’s online health insurance exchange face a second round of premium hikes for 2018 following President Donald Trump’s Oct. 12 order stopping federal payments to health insurers to fund discounts for moderate-income patients.

For a few people, the new rates will be 76 percent more than 2017 levels.

The Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) Wednesday approved emergency rate increases for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic, the state’s only two carriers serving the online exchange market for individual coverage. The emergency stemmed from the narrowness of the time frame between Trump’s action and when the annual “open season” begins for buying coverage on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange on Nov. 1. Silver plans generally provide a middle level of coverage for mid-range monthly premiums.

Despite the large rate hikes from 2017 to 2018, Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer Jr. explained in an Oct. 23 telephone press conference that few people will pay the increases from their own funds. Most people to be charged the higher premiums will have the increases offset – completely or in large part – by higher tax credits, he said.

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Learn to be like a boy scout and get prepared

Boy Scouts-Be Prepared

The Trump administration needs to take a lesson from the Boy Scouts of America and “be prepared.” The incidents of members of the administration not being prepared are numerous and significant but should not be surprising.
The presidential debates made it quite clear that Donald J. Trump is a good deal more comfortable speaking off the “top of his head” than doing the requisite preparation to gain a thorough understanding of key issues and the implications associated with those issues. Becoming president apparently has not changed his view of the importance of preparation as it is clear that he takes greater pride in signing his numerous executive orders than understanding those orders and the ramifications of implementing them.

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Promises, promises and the Dionne Warwick lament

Trump face

Oh, promises, their kind of promises, can just destroy a life
Oh, promises, those kind of promises, take all the joy from life
– by Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Elections, as we have all recently learned, have consequences. No one should be surprised that promises made by the elected candidate during the campaign run the risk of being implemented after the winner takes office.

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Slithering back from the far right

In last week's column, we provided some lessons to be learned for the running for president in 2016.  However, there are also some lessons to be learned that Republican candidates may wish to consider as they try to make their way to the White House.  From the looks of the current Republican crop of candidates, and there are many, there are several important lessons from past campaigns.  The most important lesson is probably that the farther right you go to curry favor with the right wing of the party, the further you have to go to slither your way back to the center during the general election.  If these candidates learned one thing from Mitt Romney's failed presidential bid, it should have been that it is extremely difficult to get back to center after months of moving to the far right and still maintain any semblance of credibility. Certainly, in the age of cell phone cameras, consistency of message is the only protection against the flip-flopping accusations that haunted the Romney campaign.

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The Supreme Court and health care

scales of justiceIn a few weeks the Supreme Court will be rendering its decision in the King vs. Burwell case which could significantly impact health care coverage for almost 9 million Americans. The case revolves around the applicability of the tax credit that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. Obamacare, provides for individuals at certain income levels to enable them to afford the purchase of health insurance through the health insurance Exchanges established under the ACA. The question before the court is whether that tax credit is limited to Exchanges set up by the state or whether it would also apply to the Exchanges set up by the Federal government in those states that opted out of setting up the Exchanges themselves.

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