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Good News for Pregnant Women

Mom and baby with doctorMedicaid coverage for moms is now available for 12 months after pregnancy. This means that after you give birth to your baby, YOU will have health coverage for 12 months.

Every pregnancy is different and the steps to recovery can be difficult. A mother typically has a health care visit around six to eight weeks after delivery. Studies show that women need support and care for pregnancy-related health issues for an entire year.

What does this mean for pregnant women?

You can use this new, longer coverage to:

  • Schedule follow-up appointments for your physical recovery from birth.
  • Treat your emotional wellbeing, including depression after pregnancy.
  • Manage chronic health conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Access family planning and birth control services.

This 12-month coverage also is available for women whose pregnancy does not result in a birth.

What steps do you need to take to get this coverage? 

If you have Medicaid:

  • and you have already reported your pregnancy, you do not need to take any action.
  • and you are pregnant, you must update your account to report the pregnancy.

If you are applying for Medicaid:

  • and you are pregnant, you must answer the pregnancy questions when filling out the application to get the new coverage.

The coverage begins on the last day of your pregnancy and extends through the end of the month in which the 12-month period ends.

Why is the coverage so important?

Medicaid covers almost half of all births in the United States. Nearly 70 percent of women report at least one physical problem during the year after pregnancy. Be sure to use your health coverage to schedule physical and mental health visits and get the care you need.

Blog

Maryland: Get ready for tax time!

woman on computerTax season is here! Are you all set to file? If you were enrolled in a private health plan through Maryland Health Connection any time this year, there are important steps you need to take when you file your federal taxes.

If you’re enrolled in a private health plan

  1. Locate your Form 1095-A in your online account. We also mailed the forms on Jan. 31.
  2. Make sure the information is correct.
  3. Use this form to complete your Form 8962.
  4. If your Form 1095-A Part III is empty or incomplete, if you applied to receive a tax credit through Maryland Health Connection and you believe your Form 1095-A Part III is incorrect, or if you had a change in your household during the plan year that you did not report to Maryland Health Connection, use this worksheet.

If you have Medicaid or MCHP (Maryland Children’s Health Program) coverage

  1. View your Form 1095-B in your online account beginning in mid-February.
  2. Make sure the information is correct.
  3. Save it with your tax documents.
  4. If you file taxes, you do not need to send this form to the IRS when filing your taxes.

Get covered when you file taxes!

For the third year, we’ve been working with the Comptroller of Maryland to make it easy for uninsured Marylanders to find out more about health coverage and enroll. The Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program was created so Marylanders have access to quality and affordable health insurance.

Check a box on your tax return if you would like the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the state agency that runs Maryland Health Connection, to see if you are eligible for free or low-cost coverage.

Blog

Top five ways to get ready for school

child in mask at schoolSchool days are right around the corner! While learning may look different for some, it’s important everyone is healthy and prepared for the school year ahead. Here are some helpful tips to make sure your child's school year gets off to a great start.

Get vaccinated

Did you know that plans on Maryland Health Connection cover your child’s shots at no cost, even if you haven’t met your deductible? You can protect your children from several viruses and serious diseases.

Pack extra masks and hand sanitizer

Like socks in a dryer, masks can disappear in a backpack. Pack some extras. You never know when you’ll need them. Encourage your children to keep their masks on and to use hand sanitizer when washing hands with soap and water is not available.

Schedule an annual physical 

Make sure your child is ready to go with a head-to-toe checkup! Routine physicals are fully covered by your health plan. For most extracurricular activities, like sports, a physical is needed to participate. This will ensure that your child is healthy and prepared to take on the new school year. Try to schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician/primary care doctor. If you cannot get an appointment with your doctor, an urgent care center also can do a physical exam.

Start on a routine early

Children who were not in the classroom last year may need to get used to a new routine. Start now before the start of school to build that structure once again. Some of these habits may be an earlier bedtime, reading time or other learning activities. By beginning this routine early, you both will be ready for the first day of school without any hiccups.

Ask about a vision screening

About 80 percent of learning at school is visual. Your health insurance plan’s pediatric vision benefits cover children up to age 19 and include a routine eye examination and a pair of prescription glasses each year.

Blog

Stay safe during UV Safety Month

July is UV safety awareness monthDuring these hot months, many are excited to enjoy quality time at the pool, a family hike on your favorite trail, a trip to the beach and other outdoor activities. While soaking up some vitamin D can be beneficial, too much sun can be harmful. July is National Ultraviolet Safety Month.

What is UV-A and UV-B?

The energy given off by the sun is broken down into 2 categories: UV-A and UV-B. Exposure to both UV-A and UV-B rays can cause skin cancer, which is the most common cancer within the United States.

How can you stay safe in the sun?

Damage from UV rays can develop over time. It is crucial to start sun protection practices early in your life. There are many ways you can protect yourself and your family from harmful UV radiation:

  • Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Stay in shaded areas during midday hours.
  • Grab a hat to wear that covers your head, ears, neck, and face.
  •  Wear sunglasses that protect from both UVA and UVB rays.

Treat your sunburn

According to the Mayo Clinic, a sunburn is a thermal burn that makes skin red and painful, and may be hot to the touch. It usually appears within a few hours after too much exposure to UV light, but may take days to fade.

To get some relief, follow these tips to treat your sunburn:

  • Apply a cold compress to the sunburnt area.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever for discomfort and inflammation.
  • Use aloe vera or similar cooling ointment to get rid of the heat on the skin.
  • Avoid more sun exposure until you feel comfortable again.
  • Dink plenty of water and avoid beverages such as alcohol that could dehydrate you.
  • If the sunburn is severe and shows any signs of infection, seek medical care.
Blog

Marylanders, stay safe and healthy this summer!

father and child in poolIt is officially summer! While Marylanders are excited to enjoy outdoor activities such as swimming and cookouts, it is important to remember to stay safe and healthy. To make the most of the season, here are some tips to keep in mind while enjoying the outdoors.

Get vaccinated

To fully participate in all the summer fun, it’s important to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The vaccine is free and available for Marylanders ages 12 and up. So schedule your appointment today!

Stay cool 

If the body becomes overheated, it can have a hard time cooling itself down. Heat-related illnesses can happen to anyone at any age. To make sure you do not suffer a heat-related illness, it is important to:

  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • Drink water.
  • Eat small meals.
  • Take breaks in between activities.

Watch out for ticks!

In the warmer months, getting an illness from ticks is more common. In Maryland, ticks can spread Lyme disease and several other diseases. If you are bitten by a tick, follow these steps for simple removal:

  • Use tweezers or a tick removal kit to grasp the head of the tick. Do not grab the body, as this could result in the tick’s blood being accidentally injected into the skin.
  • Firmly grasp the tick and pull up in a straight motion. Do not twist or wiggle the tick.
  • Once the tick has been removed, dispose of it in a drain, toilet or trash can.
  • Clean the tick bite with soap and water.
  • Monitor the bite site over the next few weeks. If a red bullseye develops or you experience flu-like symptoms such as fatigue or muscle aches, contact your doctor or a medical professional.

Keep an eye on the pool

When the sun is beaming down, swimming pools can be the perfect place to stay cool and enjoy family fun. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States. To ensure safety by a lake or pool, it is important to:

  • Never leave your child unattended by water.
  • Know how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
  • Teach your child how to swim.
  • Keep a first-aid kit handy.
  • Install barriers and covers around your pool.

Are you going to eat that?

Everyone loves a good cookout! There are a few ways you can protect your family and friends this summer from food-related ilnnesses:

  • Limit exposure to outdoor temperatures. Perishable foods should not be left outside for more than two hours, and only one hour if the temperature is at or above 90°F. Keep your food at or below 40°F, in coolers or containers with a cold source, such as ice or frozen gel packs. This includes any leftovers from the grill, cold salads and even cut fruits and vegetables. Leftovers should be refrigerated or placed back in the cooler within 2 hours of being placed outside (1 hour if temperatures are at or above 90°F).
  • Avoid spreading bacteria. Do not use the same utensils and plates for raw and cooked meats.
  • Clean surfaces outside and inside often.
  • Keep food in a cooler with ice or freezer packs.
  • Pack raw foods in plastic bags to avoid cross-contamination with other food.
Blog

Use your insurance coverage during Men’s Health Month

Doctor helping a patient Celebrate Men’s Health Month in June by getting the most out of your health coverage. This program drives awareness around health issues that men may develop, like heart disease and prostate cancer. Guys, here are some important things to consider when it comes to using your health coverage.

Visit your primary care doctor
Regular check-ups can prevent or detect many health conditions. Set up your annual appointment with your health provider. All health insurance plans through Maryland Health Connection cover primary care visits.

Screenings
Screenings and preventive care are covered at no cost to you, even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible.

Mental health treatment
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, four times as many men than women commit suicide. Mental health treatment is covered under all health insurance plans. If you think you need help, please talk to someone to receive proper treatment.

Important screenings for men that are covered by Maryland Health Connection health plans are blood pressure, HIV, cholesterol, cancer (colorectal and more), Type 2 diabetes, and tobacco use screenings. Immunizations including hepatitis A and B, shingles, flu shots, measles, mumps, meningococcal,tetanus, and others.

Start using your coverage today!

Blog

Women's health: It’s covered for you

women smilingLadies, when was the last time you made sure your health was a top priority? With everyday responsibilities and activities, it’s easy to forget the last time you visited your primary care doctor, had a colonoscopy, or got a mammogram. To help you stay on top of your health, here are some recommendations to make the most of your coverage.

Know what your health plan covers

Health plans cover many benefits that are important to women, including doctor visits, prescriptions, mental health care, and pregnancy and newborn care.

Plans cover many preventive services for women without charging a copayment or coinsurance, even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible.

These include:

  • Screenings for sexually transmitted infections
  • Breast cancer screenings for women over 40
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence counseling
  • Help to quit smoking
  • Well-woman visits
  • Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling from trained providers, and access to breastfeeding supplies for pregnant and nursing women
  • Birth control, education and counseling

 

If you don’t have health coverage, you can enroll now

Browse plans and get an estimate at MarylandHealthConnection.gov or download the free mobile app to compare coverage and costs before you enroll.

When you apply through Maryland Health Connection, you will estimate your household income to see if you can get help paying for health coverage. You may qualify for financial help to make health coverage more affordable.

If you’re pregnant or have children,you can earn more than other adults and still qualify for Medicaid. You can apply for Medicaid at any point during your pregnancy.

Hundreds of trained experts are available throughout Maryland to help you apply and enroll. Find help near you.

Blog

This April understand your coverage options during STD/STI Awareness Month

According to research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2018 there were nearly 2.5 million cases of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) reported. Baltimore city has the highest STD rate in the country, jumping five spots from last year’s report. During this STD/Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) awareness month, Marylanders should understand why it’s important to schedule consistent STD/STI screenings with your doctor.

What is the difference between an STD and STI?

If an individual is infected, but the infection has not fully developed into a disease, they have an STI. Having an infection is what occurs before developing an STD. Several STIs and STDs do not have any symptoms. This is why having a screening is crucial to know if you are infected. While an STD can develop from an STI, not every STI becomes an STD.

What are common STDs and STIs?

To understand your signs and symptoms, here are some common STDs and STIs to take a look at:

How do you prevent and treat an STD?

Have a conversation with your partner

Clear communication is key to preventing STDs. Have a conversation about how to practice safe sex and why it’s essential to get tested. It is also important to talk about the structure of your relationship and if you are seeking a monogamous relationship or not.

Go to your doctor

Several STDs do not show any signs or symptoms. If you are sexually active, ask your doctor during your yearly physical if getting tested is right for you. With your Maryland Health Connection plan, preventive screenings are covered.

Get treated

If you test positive for an STD, ask your doctor t for treatment. STDs left untreated can cause complications such as abdominal/pelvic pain, issues becoming pregnant, or an increased risk of developing HIV.

Blog

March is National Kidney Month

National Kidney Month is the perfect time to make sure you're taking care of your kidneys. Did you know 2 in 5 adults with chronic kidney disease do not know they have it? Follow these healthy lifestyle tips and take control of your kidney health.

kidney month

Check in regularly with your doctor

By scheduling annual check ups and staying connected with your doctor, you can help maintain your overall health. Several doctors are offering telehealth appointments via phone or computer, so you don’t have to worry about coming into the office during the COVID-19 restrictions. To find a doctor in your area, check out our Find a Doctor tool.

Reduce processed foods

These foods contain a lot of sodium, unhealthy fats and even phosphorus. Many people who have kidney disease need to limit phosphorus in their diets. Research has shown that high phosphorus intake from processed foods may be harmful to kidneys. Try foods that are  low in phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Some options include cabbage, cauliflower, blueberries and bell peppers.

Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine

Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities and get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. By exercising, you build up your muscle and endurance. This helps your kidneys function at peak levels. Some physical activities to try are: taking a walk, riding a bike, doing yoga, gardening, and swimming.

Get tested and stay healthy!

It’s important that you have any of of the following conditions, to talk to your doctor about getting tested for kidney disease:

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • a family history of kidney failure

Regular testing is your best chance for identifying kidney disease.  Early treatment is most effective and can help prevent additional health problems. Kidney disease is more commonly associated with people who have a family history or those who are over the age of 60.

All plans through Maryland Health Connection, cover doctor visits and  preventive screenings. If you do not have health insurance, enroll today at MarylandHealthConnection.gov.

Blog

Top 5 tips for a healthy winter

Staying healthy this winter is more important than ever. As coronavirus cases continue to rise, taking care of your family is a top priority. Check out our tips to help your body get ready to combat the coronavirus, the flu and other illnesses this season.

woman meditating

1. Eat healthy 

Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet is essential to help your body fight off illness. Eating vegetables, fruit and whole grains can help prepare your immune system in case you do get sick.

2. Wash your hands 

Hand washing can prevent the spread of several types of infections. Practice proper hygiene to keep yourself and others healthy. Need some hand washing tips? Check out these 5 steps to washing your hands the right way from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

3. Get vaccinated 

Your immune system protects your body from harmful germs. To boost your immune system, stay up-to-date with your vaccines. Get a flu shot! All Maryland Health Connection plans offer vaccinations at no additional cost, even if you haven’t met your deductible. Stop into your local pharmacy or schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor for a flu shot today.

4. Stay active

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it can be a challenge to exercise. Try virtual workout classes or invest in some home exercise equipment. It’s important to maintain your mental and physical health by staying active all year.

5. Take care of yourself

Lastly, a tip a lot of people forget: practice self-care. Activities such as yoga, meditation, sleeping, writing, listening to music and cooking are all great ways to help reduce your stress. Take time to keep your mind, body and soul in peak condition.

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