‘Steady’ Interest In Health Connection, Officials Report

SNOW HILL — Interest in what kind of effect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have locally has been “steady,” according to the Worcester County Health Department (WCHD).
As WCHD takes point on the information effort for affordable care on the Eastern Shore, Katherine Gunby, program coordinator for the Lower Shore Health Insurance Assistance Program with the WCHD, hopes the process will continue smoothly.
“Most people are trying to learn about the program, Maryland Health Connection, what’s required and what’s available to them,” she said. “We are providing a lot of basic information about how they can apply for health insurance and assisting them as they begin the application process.”
People from all walks of life are invested in understanding affordable care, Gunby continued, and the stream of residents curious about what plans will be available for them and what mandates will be required of them has been continuous since open enrollment began on Oct. 1.
“We are having a steady amount of calls and visits to our multiple sites each day,” she said. “Since the state of Maryland is working on building capacity of its online insurance marketplace, we have been in more of a question-and-answer education mode and have scheduled appointments to work on paper applications.”
No trouble answering those questions has been reported, according to Gunby, at least locally. The story is a bit different at the state and federal level, she admitted, with technology glitches reported with the launch of ACA. But Worcester seems to have avoided such hiccups.
“Locally, our information website and hotline are working smoothly. As for Maryland Health Connection’s system, technological issues are fairly common with the roll out of a large major new program,” said Gunby. “The state has been working diligently on improving the system. Each day is getting better. People have until March 31, 2014 to enroll into plans offered on the exchange.”
The plans are varied for all budgets with most of the uninsured on the lower Eastern Shore eligible for financial assistance for health insurance, according to Gunby.
She is optimistic about the Maryland Health Connections resource getting all of the bugs out in short order and recommends that any resident interested in affordable care options visit the local site at lowershorehealth.org or call 855-455-5540.