BALTMORE - There are about 800,000 uninsured individuals in the state of Maryland and for those people, Oct. 1 is the beginning.
Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act has begun and Maryland has spent months preparing.
"We're on timelines with everything, we've met all of our benchmarks but it's been really, really busy yes," said Kathleen Westcoat, CEO of HealthCare Access Maryland.
HealthCare Access Maryland is one of six what they call "connectors"in the state, her's the one in charge of Baltimore City along with Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.
The 220,000 uninsured residents in those three areas are their target; connecting them with a health care policy that makes most sense for them is their goal.
"If you have employer based health insurance you can keep it, if you are a senior with Medicare, you can keep your Medicare...if you're uninsured, there are a couple of options available," says Westcoat.
Those options can best be explained to you by the experts at the city call center and others like it or through what they call navigators which essentially are counselors scheduled to hit the streets tomorrow for face to face consolations.
There are 45 different plans to choose from under four carriers.
"Our goal is to really make sure people get enrolled, and get enrolled in our program," Westcoat said.
Former head of both Baltimore City and Howard County Health Departments Dr. Peter Beilenson is one of those carriers.
He started a co-op health care company called Evergreen Health Co-Op, one of the four companies that will offer individual health care plans here in Maryland.
Regardless of which you choose, Beilenson says study up on what is best for you and take advantage of the state agencies willing to help you navigate through it.
“You go online at amazon.com and you can choose between several different prices for a book, it is nowhere near that simple. This is your entire health care system and offerings that will be available to you," warns Beilenson.
And if you are one of the 800,000 uninsured in Maryland, you will have from tomorrow through March 31 of next year to choose.
Prices on all plans vary on your need and refusal to enroll will result in a monetary penalty that continues to increase over the next few years.
The state of Maryland has online resources to help you navigate through the process. Click here to find your region's 'connector and sign up for one on one counseling.
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