ANNAPOLIS, Md. — As the Supreme Court continues deliberations over challenges to the Affordable Care Act, health care advocates are urging Marylanders to sign up during open enrollment, which lasts until December 15.

More than 6 million folks in the state have the choice to pick or change their health benefits, according to Natalie Williamson, vice president for a total cost of care strategy at United Healthcare of the Mid-Atlantic, one of the insurance providers of the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange. She said folks will have to weigh different priorities this year during the pandemic when many lost jobs and health coverage from COVID shutdowns.

“I would definitely make sure you’re evaluating how the plan you’re looking at for the next year covers telehealthcare and the ability to receive services from home, because it’s been a very important way to get care for individuals during the pandemic, and I think that will continue into the next year,” Williamson said.

Nine out of 10 people who enrolled through the Maryland exchange this year received free or lower-cost coverage. Go to to sign up.

Williamson acknowledged health care can be expensive, but many plans offer healthy lifestyle incentives such as gym membership discounts. She said pharmacy programs also have options to help you save money.

“The pharmacy portion of a health plan is the most frequently utilized portion of the benefit,” she said. “And there are lots of opportunities there in terms of cost savings options, picking a generic drug, looking for mail order, if that’s an opportunity, looking for over-the-counter alternatives.”

Nearly 58,000 Marylanders signed up for health insurance this year during two special enrollment periods brought on by concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials say the average rates for insurance have dropped by 12% for 2021 coverage.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service

Diane Bernard is a digital and radio journalist based in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area with more than 10 years of journalism experience. Her print and online credits include work for The Washington...

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