Maryland lawmakers are scheduled to consider recommendations from the Board of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange regarding how the state should construct and insurance exchange system. The board introduced their recommendations to the General Assembly on Tuesday, but legislators will not decide what to do until the beginning of next year. The state is required to establish an insurance exchange system by federal law, but Maryland legislators have been slow in passing any new laws that would make the program a reality. The insurance exchange board was formed to guide legislators in their decision.
Thus far, the board has only detailed how the exchange should be set up. No decision regarding how the program should be funded has yet been made, but the board claims that there are several options. The board has recommended that the state create two exchange programs, one for small groups and the other of the individual market. This is due to the rate-setting regulations currently in place in the state. If the two markets were combined, consumers may suffer from massive premiums hikes.
The board has also recommended new regulations that would require all of the health insurance companies currently doing business in the state to participate in the program. This would increase competition amongst insurers and drive down premiums. The exchanges would also offer dental insurance, according to the board’s suggestions, a feature that is not required to be a part of the exchanges.
Legislators will convene in January to continue discussing the matter and may determine a course of action in the coming months.