The US Census Department released its report, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2014, which shows a national decline in the uninsured rate of 2.9% from 2013 to 2014. In Maryland that rate fell from 11.3% in 2010 to 7.9% in 2014 and it means that 177,861 more Marylanders now have the security of knowing that they can get the care they need. For many it means they don't have to worry that health care bills could cause them to go bankrupt or lose their homes. For others, who couldn't go to the doctor for an early diagnosis because they couldn't afford the bills, it will save lives.
Maryland has taken the lead on health care reform from the start, but the job is not done. Approximately 308,000 Marylanders still do not have health insurance according to the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE). Many others, who enrolled for the first time last year, must be encouraged to re-enroll this year. Equally important, given the up to 26% increase in 2016 insurance rates just approved by the Maryland Insurance Administration, consumers must be encouraged to shop and compare before enrolling this year.
That will be challenging given the cuts to the in-person assistance program approved by the MHBE Board.
Maryland's expansion of Medicaid and the establishment of our state based exchange were wise investments. Now policy makers must commit to providing all of the resources that consumers need to make informed decisions. This would be, not only an investment in the health and well-being of individual Marylanders, but in the health of the state's economy as well.