Maryland Responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic with a Special Enrollment Period for Health Insurance

As part of Maryland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange opened a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) in March 2020. This SEP allows uninsured Marylanders to enroll in insurance coverage outside of the Open Enrollment period without having a qualifying life event like a job loss, moving into the state, or getting married or divorced. Currently, the SEP is open through May 15, 2021. 

HealthCare Access Maryland’s Connector Program has been helping Marylanders enroll in coverage throughout this SEP. We hear every day about the peace of mind having health insurance brings to people in these difficult times. One of our navigators (HCAM has a team of 49 navigators and leadership), Helen, shared her experience enrolling people remotely. Read below to learn more about Helen’s role as a navigator and what clients can expect when they call in for support enrolling in the SEP.

Image courtesy of Maryland Health Benefit Exchange

What is the Special Enrollment Period? Who is eligible to apply? The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an opportunity for anyone who currently does not have health insurance to apply, compare, and enroll in a health plan. It is important to note that the SEP is not for consumers who want to change their current private health insurance selection. 

Describe your role as a Navigator. As a Certified Navigator, I help Marylanders navigate their health insurance options through the Affordable Care Act. In the Navigator role, I also inform and educate the community about their health insurance options and what is available. It’s nice to be able to help individuals figure out their health insurance options and provide them with peace of mind.

How has your role changed since COVID? Since the pandemic, we don’t have the opportunity to meet the public face-to-face, so all of my interactions with consumers are over the phoneSince everything is remote, I make it a priority to ensure there is a personal connection while talking with the consumer. There are a lot of step-by-step instructions over the phone to ensure no details are being missed when filling out the application. There is much more communication and we do our very best to explain everything to consumers while also assisting them with navigating our website.

What can consumers expect when they call in for support enrolling in healthcare? Consumers can expect to speak with a navigator who is very knowledgeable and who is willing to help them regardless of their situation. They can expect to be asked a lot of questions as the Navigator fills out their application while they are on the phone. The stepbystep application process is filled out by the Navigator based off the information provided by the consumer. Pay stubs, tax returns, and additional documentation is used to attest that the information they are giving the Navigator is correct. Consumers can take pictures of their documents and upload them to their portal on www.marylandhealthconnection.govThey can also email their documents to us or text them to a Navigator and we can upload it on their behalf. Once complete, the system will determine which plans the consumer is eligible for. Navigators will help them plan shop and help them choose a plan that is best for them.

To speak with one of our navigators and enroll in health insurance through the Special Enrollment Period, contact our call center: 410-500-4710You can also visit our website for more information about our Connector program and how we serve the Maryland community  

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