What is the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange?
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE) is a public corporation and independent unit of the State government established in April 2011 in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). The MHBE is responsible for the administration of Maryland Health Connection, the state’s health insurance marketplace, and works with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Maryland Insurance Administration, Department of Human Resources and stakeholders statewide.
The Exchange has a nine-member board of trustees that includes the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, Maryland Insurance Commissioner and Executive Director of the Maryland Health Care Commission, as well as three members appointed by Governor Hogan representing employer and individual consumer interests and three additional board members appointed by the Governor.
Why did Maryland establish the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) required states to have a health insurance exchange in place by January 1, 2014. Exchanges can be developed and implemented by the state or by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Maryland chose to develop a state-based exchange (Maryland Health Connection) that meets the unique needs of Maryland’s residents.
What is Maryland Health Connection?
Maryland Health Connection is the marketplace for Maryland individuals and families to compare and enroll in health insurance and determine eligibility for Medicaid and other assistance programs, federal tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.
Open Enrollment through Maryland Health Connection for 2016 coverage is Nov. 1, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2016. Hundreds of thousands of Marylanders have already enrolled in coverage since the marketplace opened Oct. 1, 2013.
Maryland small businesses also can offer coverage to employees through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Federal tax credits are available to help small businesses cover the cost of providing health coverage for employees..
How is the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange being funded?
Funding made available through federal Early Innovator, Planning and Level One Establishment grants enabled the MHBE to conduct market research; develop and establish a governance structure; procure and begin development for a new enrollment and eligibility system to support Maryland’s “no wrong door” approach in conjunction with Medicaid and DHR; hire executive staff; and engage expert consultants and stakeholder advisory groups to conduct legislatively-mandated studies on policy decisions.
Maryland has received four federal grants to support the implementation of a state-based exchange through the ACA, totaling $157.5 million. In August 2012, Maryland received a Level Two Establishment grant for $123 million to continue implementation of the eligibility and enrollment system, consumer assistance, outreach and education, operations, and administration. Grants totaling $34.4 million cover research, planning, information technology development, and implementation, including a Planning grant for $1 million for initial research and planning, a $6.2 million Early Innovator grant to design and implement an information technology (IT) model that could also serve as a model for other states. A $27.7 million Level One Establishment grant allows for policy development, planning, technology and operational infrastructure, and the IT platform.