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Consumer health advocates urge governor to sign bill package; NY protests for Jewish democracy heighten as Netanyahu meets UN today; Multiple Utah cities set to use ranked-choice voting in next election.

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The Pentagon wants to help service members denied benefits under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," advocates back a new federal office of gun violence prevention, and a top GOP member assures the Ukrainian president more help is coming.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

New MD Law, Biden Plan Cut Health-Insurance Costs

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021   

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Maryland's health insurance open enrollment period runs through Jan. 15, and whether you are younger or older, extra financial assistance is available, through a new state law and the American Rescue Plan.

This year, Maryland enacted Senate Bill 729, establishing a pilot program to cut costs of health-insurance coverage for young adults, ages 18 to 34.

Stephanie Klapper, deputy director of the Maryland Citizen's Health Initiative, said some people may be eligible for a plan for as little as a dollar a month, depending on their income and household size.

"Even if you've looked before for health coverage, it's worth coming back to Maryland Health Connection, because there's now savings available for those 18- to-34-year-olds," Klapper explained. "And thanks to the American Rescue Plan, there's new assistance for households at all income levels, even for folks who are older than 18 to 34."

She said nine out of 10 Marylanders who enroll in health coverage through Maryland Health Connection get financial help to pay for their plan. Look online at marylandhealthconnection.gov for more information.

Tammy Bresnahan, associate director of advocacy for AARP Maryland, urged the parents of those young adults to enroll, and to tell friends and loved ones who may not be aware of the cost-savings options.

She pointed out coverage is especially important now, as the pandemic wears on, because many people over 50, especially women, have lost their jobs and the health insurance that went with them.

"That 50-to-64-year-old bloc, they are having problems going back to work, getting a job that has health insurance," Bresnahan observed. "So, open enrollment also helps them acquire health insurance, because they are most at risk."

She noted all plans through the Health Connection cover doctor visits, prescriptions, mental-health services and more. You must enroll by Dec. 31 to be covered in the new year. If you wait to enroll in January, your coverage starts Feb. 1, 2022.

Disclosure: AARP Maryland contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Energy Policy, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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