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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

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

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

The Maryland Primary Care Program

What is the Maryland Primary Care Program?

The Maryland Primary Care Program (MDPCP) is a voluntary program open to all Maryland primary care practices with primary care clinicians. The program provides resources to your primary care team to better manage and coordinate your care, at no extra cost to you. These services include:

  • Integration of behavioral health needs with primary care.
  • A care team led by your doctor.
  • Access to links to social services such as transportation, food, housing, and much more.
  • More convenient care options, such as telemedicine, group visits and home visits.
  • Full-time Care Managers to help smooth transition of care, including follow up after hospital admissions and emergency department visits.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, MDPCP was modeled after the CMMI national Comprehensive Primary Care Plus Model​ (CPC+).Over 470 primary care practices in every county in Maryland are participating in this network to support your health. Doctors will also receive technical assistance and data support.

How does the MDPCP affect you?

Maryland Health Connection recently updated the Find a Doctor search tool. To see MDPCP participating doctors, you can click More Filters and select Yes or No next to the brief description of the program to view the list of participating doctors. When you search for a doctor, you can see a notation next to doctors who participate in MDPCP. By choosing a doctor who is part of MDPCP, you will receive additional support with management and prevention of chronic disease.

For more information on the program, please visit the Maryland Department of Health.

 

Blog

Questions to ask before selecting a health plan

Interested in finding a health plan? Congrats! Picking a health plan can be complicated. Before diving in, here are some photo of checklistquestions you should consider.

What type of plan is it?

Maryland Health Connection offers private health plans from insurance companies you’ll recognize, like CareFirst and Kaiser Permanente. All plans have been certified by Maryland Health Connection to meet certain standards and offer core health benefits.These health plans cover at least 60 percent of your annual medical costs.

All plans sold through Maryland Health Connection cover the same benefits:

  • Doctor visits
  • Hospitalization
  • Emergency care
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Pediatric care, including dental and vision
  • Prescription drugs
  • Laboratory tests
  • Mental health care
  • Substance use disorder treatment

and offer free preventative services such as checkups, vaccinations, blood pressure and diabetes screenings, and more. Some plans offer additional benefits.

How much is the premium?

The premium is the monthly amount that must be paid for your health insurance or plan. You and/or your employer usually pay it monthly, quarterly or yearly. Depending on the type of plan and the amount of coverage you choose, the cost can vary drastically.

How much is the deductible?

The deductible is the amount you owe for covered health care services before your health insurance or plan begins to pay. Generally, plans with lower monthly premiums have higher deductibles. Plans with higher monthly premiums usually have lower deductibles. With a $1,000 deductible, for example, you pay the first $1,000 of covered services. After you pay your deductible, you usually pay only a copayment or coinsurance for covered services. Your insurance company pays the rest.

Are my preferred doctors and hospitals in my network?

If you have favorite doctors or hospitals, it is always a good idea to call and ask which insurance plans they accept. If they do not take your insurance, they are considered out of network. Some plans cover a percentage toward out-of-network providers, and some do not cover them at all.

Do I qualify for financial help?

Depending on your income and household size, you may qualify for different types of financial help. If your income is below a certain level — for example, less than $17,620 for a single person or less than $36,167 for a family of four — you may qualify for Medicaid. Last year, 9 in 10 people who enrolled through Maryland Health Connection qualified for free or reduced cost health coverage. Use this tool to calculate your income and see if you qualify.

Medicaid, MCHP, and MCHP Premium provide health coverage free or at a low cost to eligible individuals.

Need help or have questions?

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

 

 

 

Blog

On unemployment? What to include as income on your application

Whether you are applying for the first time or you already are covered through Maryland Health Connection, you may have new types of income to enter, including

  • Unemployment Income
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) $600 unemployment bump
  • One-time federal recovery rebate or stimulus payment ($1,200 per adult and $500 per qualifying child)

Use this chart to help you figure out what to include on your application.

Type of Income Include in Current (Monthly) Income? Include in Projected Annual Income?
Unemployment extension up to 39 weeks of benefits Yes, regular unemployment should be reported in the month it is received. Yes, make your best guess about your yearly income, including how long you expect to receive unemployment benefits.
$600 FPUC bump No, do not include this amount in your current monthly income. Yes, add the $600 per week when estimating annual income. Someone who receives unemployment benefits from early April through July 31 will receive about $10,000 from this.
One-time recovery payment ($1,200 per adult and $500 per qualifying child) No, do not include this amount in current monthly income. No, do not include this amount in current yearly income.

Tips for entering income:

If you are applying or updating your income, you should enter your monthly income as it is right now, without the $600 in additional unemployment income. From there, enter your expected yearly income based on what you think you’ll make over the course of the year.

When entering your yearly income, consider how much you have earned so far this year, add any severance pay, plus unemployment (including the extra $600 per week), and include what might be earned if and when you return to work later this year.

We understand this is a guess. You will have the opportunity to change this if your income changes later. It’s important to update your income information as it changes, so it is as correct as possible.

If you are eligible for a qualifying health plan with an Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) to lower the cost of coverage, you can adjust the amount you take by using the APTC slider after you choose a plan. It is a good idea to take the least amount of credit you can afford, because all tax credits received during the year will need to be reconciled when you file your tax return next year. Any unused credits can be claimed during tax filing. 

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