State health leaders work to address local needs


HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is looking to increase healthcare enrollment in western Maryland. Right now, there are still over 15,000 uninsured residents across Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties.

“The Western Maryland stubborn streak, combined with typical news sources, leads to a population that is not truly aware of what their healthcare options are,” said Area Health Education Center West program director David Stewart.

The executive director for the Exchange, Michele Eberle, says one area they focus on in western Maryland is health literacy.

“Something we like to do is tell people about health literacy and health insurance policies. Here’s your insurance policy, here’s what it means to have a deductible. Here’s what it means to have a co-pay or co insurance. Here’s how best to use this health insurance to be of value to you,” Eberle explained.

Some people qualify for reduced costs and subsidies when it comes to healthcare and they don’t even know it.

“Subsidies are available for people who make up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. That federal poverty level changes every year. What subsidies do is help offset that cost of healthcare,” said Eberle.

Being aware of your options isn’t just a problem here, but across the state of Maryland.

“There’s another 50,000 people who are eligible for Medicaid, and don’t know it either– and that’s completely free. If we’re talking about serving regions of this state where Medicaid is the primary program of care delivery, it’s critical,” said John-Pierre Cardenas, MHBE director of policy and plan management.

The MHBE website has more details about enrollment.

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