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Medicare and Maryland Health Connection Marketplace 

Impact to Those on Medicare

  • The Marketplace, created by the Affordable Care Act, is not for individuals on Medicare, regardless of age. The Maryland Health Connection, Maryland’s Individual Marketplace, was primarily created to help those under 65 who are uninsured, underinsured or who do not have access to affordable health care.
  • For individuals, who are under age 65 and have been receiving SSDI due to a disability for less than 25 months, the Marketplace is an important option to obtain affordable insurance. Although the open enrollment for the Marketplace will not occur until the fall, one may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. To learn more call the Consumer Support Center at 1-855-642-8572.
  • Medicare beneficiaries, whether over or under 65, have health insurance. Even if they only have Medicare Part A, this is still considered to be  “minimum essential health coverage” under the Affordable Care Act, and they cannot be penalized for a lack thereof. Actually, it is illegal for someone to sell an Individual Marketplace Plan – also called a Quality Health Plan (QHP) – to an individual enrolled in premium-free Medicare A.
  • Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigaps, and Medicare Advantage Plans function the same as they did before the Affordable Care Act. Medicare Supplements or Advantage Plans cannot be purchased through the Maryland Health Connection.

Transition From the Marketplace to Medicare

  • Anyone who has purchased a Marketplace Plan and then become eligible for Medicare will be allowed to keep their Quality Health Plan. However, as soon as Medicare Part A takes effect, they will automatically lose any Marketplace premium tax credits or subsidies (the plan will send them a notice explaining these changes). The loss of this financial assistance will typically make the QHPs too costly to continue. Therefore, it is important to be sure to sign up for Medicare on time (during the Initial Enrollment Period) to avoid a Part B late-enrollment premium penalty. They will need to contact their QHPs to disenroll from them, since the plan cannot automatically disenroll anyone. 
  • Those who were eligible for and enrolled in the expanded Adult Medical Assistance category, will lose this benefit whenever they become eligible for Medicare. At that time, they will need to contact the local Department of Social Services or SHIP, State Health Insurance Assistance Program, to be screened for possible enrollment in the Medicare Savings Programs (QMB and SLMB) and to consider a Medical Assistance Spend down.
  • Drug coverage in the Marketplace may not be credible coverage, which means that it may not be as good as the Medicare Part D basic benefit. Therefore, anyone who gets coverage through the Individual Marketplace or through the Small Business Health Options (SHOP) Marketplace should ascertain whether their coverage is credible. If it is not, they will need to enroll in Medicare Part D when they become eligible for Medicare to avoid paying a lifetime Part D late-enrollment penalty.
  • A small number of people have not earned the 10 years of work credits to make them eligible for premium- free Part A. If they want Part A, they will need to pay up to $426 per month. This group may want to weigh paying for Medicare versus buying a Marketplace plan. However, if they elect to later purchase Medicare, they will have to pay a late-enrollment penalty for not enrolling in Medicare when they were first eligible.
  • For any questions, please contact the Baltimore County SHIP-SMP office at 410-887-2059.

Revised April 15, 2014

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