On Oct. 4, 2013, Montgomery County opened enrollment in health insurance and Medicaid programs under the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange's (MHBE) mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
The MHBE's new Maryland Health Connection program offers individuals, families and small businesses the opportunity to purchase new health insurance programs, compare eligibility for Medicaid and federal assistance as well as obtain tax subsidies to lower costs.With a grant from the MHBE, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services will help out 52,000 uninsured county residents register for health insurance. Montgomery County's role in implementing the Affordable Care Act or ACA through the Maryland Health Connection program spawns several agencies. Service Partners include CASA de Maryland, Korean Community Services Center of Greater Washington and Family Services Inc.
Montgomery County plans to inform senior citizens about how the state will implement the ACA. Although talks are geared toward the act's effects on the Senior Health Insurance Program, the ACA still mandates anyone from 18 to 64 to have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014. According to a Montgomery County News Release, "Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about Maryland's plan for implementing the ACA, which mandates that legal residents age 18 to 64 have health insurance coverage beginning January 1, 2014 or face a penalty."
Besides seniors, in-person enrollment opportunities are available for individuals and families. Enrollment locations near Blair include the Wheaton Welcome Center, Silver Spring Welcome Center, Silver Spring Health Center and Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Health.
In addition to comparing plans for first-time health insurance enrollment, the new Health Connection Program offers inquiry opportunities for seeking eligibility for age-based public health programs. These include Medicaid and the Maryland Children's Health Insurance Program (MCHIP). The MCHIP uses federal and state funds to provide insurance for all children up to the age of 19.
Montgomery County's implementation of the ACA will be effective, because residents will be able to compare insurance plans with the help of partner agencies before deciding their insurance plans. One-on-one support will be further set in place Help Phone lines and in-person help. Online resources are also available through the Montgomery Public Libraries and the Maryland Health Connection. With the combination of both online resources and varying dates and locations, Montgomery County residents should feel prepared and guided throughout the insurance process.
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