According to the Legislative Wrap-Up (please see below) Maryland House Bill 443 and Senate Bill 238 allow agents and consultants to broker plans through the public exchanges. This is wonderful news as it gives employers and individuals access to both private insurance programs as well as those offered through the public exchanges while maintaining their relationship with agents/consultants. Hopefully, this will help spur competition and ultimately lower insurance costs making coverage more affordable for everyone. Of course the Supreme Court may throw a wrinkle or two as to how the law will go into effect. But come January 1, 2014, I would assume that regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, Maryland will plow forward with their version of Health Reform.
The Legislative Wrap-Up
Library and Information Services, Department of Legislative Services
Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2012
HB 443 (passed) makes various updates to Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange laws. This Administration bill, as amended, expands the operating structure of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange by, among other things, authorizing the exchange to contract with health insurance carriers in a certain manner, establishing the framework for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange, and establishing navigator programs for the SHOP and Individual exchanges. The bill requires SHOP Exchange navigators to be licensed, Individual Exchange navigators to be certified, and insurance producers to be authorized to sell qualified plans in the SHOP and/or Individual exchanges. The bill also establishes a process for selecting the benchmark plan that will serve as the standard for the essential health benefits for health benefit plans offered in the small group and individual markets, both inside and outside the exchange.
The legislation has a general effective date of June 1, 2012, although some provisions do not take effect until January 1, 2014.