Website problems lead to as many as 5,000 Marylanders not getting health insurance

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A problem with the Maryland Health Exchange website means some Marylanders who believe they successfully enrolled for coverage, in reality, did not.

During a briefing with reporters in Annapolis Friday, Gov. Martin O'Malley pointed to an uptick in enrollment at the end of the year through the state website, with a record number of sign-ups.  But O'Malley also indicated that somewhere between several hundred and 5,000 people either couldn't navigate through the system or think they successfully navigated their way through the system, but are not covered.  An exact number is not known at this point.

The Governor, joined by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, said a fix is in the works.  State leaders indicate they'll be working on legislation to address the problem and ensure those who thought they were successful in enrolling will be protected.  Brown says the legislation will center on changing the eligibility for the Maryland Health Insurance Program so these individuals can be included.

"This is for those who have gone through the system, no fault of their own, they believe that they've come out on the other side of the system and will receive an insurance card.  But for no fault of their own, they won't," Brown said.

While the eligibility change will give those who are unexpectedly not covered an option, Brown says those interested will have to pay a premium, with the state subsidizing some of the cost.  The legislation needed to make the change will be introduced at the start of the session.  Other state lawmakers have suggested pushing back enrollment deadlines so those who are uninsured won't be penalized.

O'Malley said as of Friday's update, 61,322 people have signed up through the state website.  The goal, he says, is to have 260,000 people covered in Maryland.

O'Malley admits problems with the exchange website continue, although nine major problems that were identified have been corrected to make the process workable for most people.

The governor says the best course of action for those unsure of whether they were successful in obtaining coverage is to contact the carrier they clicked on during enrollment.  

"We continue to work the problem," said O'Malley.

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