Open Enrollment Has Begun - With a Major Catch

Open Enrollment began yesterday and continues through February 1, 2017. However, for those who need coverage beginning January 1, you must enroll by December 15, 2016. This year, there is a major disruption that consumers need to be aware of. Although four insurers offer plans on the individual market, CareFirst, Kaiser Permanente, Cigna and Evergreen Health, Evergreen Health Cooperative will not be available to purchase as of now.

In October, Evergreen, which insures about 38,000 Marylanders, announced that they would be applying to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to change from a nonprofit cooperative, to a for profit company. This change was in a bid to survive and recover from the crippling risk adjustment payment they were required to make in 2015 of $24 million, more than a quarter of their $85 million revenues. 

When consumers log on to Maryland Health Connection to shop for plans and select Evergreen, they will receive the following message:

"Evergreen plans are not available at this time. Maryland Health Connection expects to know soon if Evergreen plans will become available before open enrollment for 2017 ends. It is important to choose a plan by Dec. 15 to ensure Jan. 1 coverage. If you choose a plan now with a different carrier, you may still switch to Evergreen if those plans become available prior to the end of open enrollment on January 31." 

Consumer Health First feels that in the interest of having a more competitive marketplace, it's critical that Evergreen receive approval to ensure that Marylanders have more choice.

The Health Exchange was very encouraged by the turnout on opening day. Nearly four times as many people signed up yesterday compared to the first day last year.