[photo, 750 East Pratt St., Baltimore, Maryland] To reduce the number of Maryland residents who have no health insurance, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange was established as a public corporation and an independent unit of State government in June 2011 (Chapter 2, Acts of 2011; Code Insurance Article, secs. 31-101 through 31-111).

750 East Pratt St., Baltimore, Maryland, November 2015. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Maryland formed the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to meet requirements of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148), as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-152). The federal statute requires each state to establish a health benefit exchange by January 1, 2014 or choose one run by the federal government. Maryland chose to operate its own exchange, and received conditional federal approval of its marketplace governance and structure in December 2012.

To provide Marylanders with high quality, affordable private health plans at competitive prices, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange administers the State-based health insurance marketplace, Maryland Health Connection, which helps individuals purchase qualified health plans in the individual insurance market. Maryland Health Connection opened enrollment for individuals on October 1, 2013.

Since April 1, 2014, small business owners have been able to enroll their employees in health insurance plans certified under the Small Business Options Program (SHOP). Employers with from one to fifty employees may purchase insurance plans directly from a carrier, a third-party administrator, or a broker, and, for those who are eligible, receive federal small business tax credits.

Open enrollment period for individual coverage in 2016 began on November 1, 2015, and ended February 5, 2016. To begin coverage on January 1, 2016, enrollment must have been completed by December 18, 2015. Enrollments completed by January 15, 2016 began coverage on February 1, 2016, and the remaining enrollees began coverage on March 1, 2016. Those who had a qualified health plan through the Exchange in 2015, automatically were renewed in the same plan, or a similar plan if their plan has changed.

During the open enrollment period, consumers were able to evaluate their health insurance options, including an estimate of financial assistance, on the Exchange website (

The Customer Support Center may be reached on the toll-free hotline (1-855-642-8572), and certified navigators and insurance brokers are available to assist consumers. Since November 8, 2014, the general public has been able to access self-service enrollments through Maryland Health Connection.


The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees. Six of the Board's members are appointed by the Governor to four-year terms, and three serve ex officio. With the approval of the Governor, the Board appoints the Executive Director (Code Insurance Article, secs. 3-104, 3-105).

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