Van Hollen cited the success in Maryland, which has enrolled nearly 7,000 residents over the past two years, according to the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. The state’s uninsured rate was 6% in 2019, the last year for which statistics are available. Nationally, according to last year’s census, the percentage of those without health insurance is 8.6%.
President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill before Congress would increase federal subsidies for health insurance and make millions more people eligible for Medicaid. Proponents say a check-off box on federal tax returns would alert many of those taxpayers of their options and usher them into health insurance plans.
In 2020, the first year of Maryland’s Easy Enrollment program, 60,645 Maryland taxpayers checked the box indicating they didn’t have health insurance. The state determined that 53,146 were eligible for either Medicaid or a federal tax credit. Of those, 4,015 people, or 7.6%, ultimately enrolled in a health plan.
This year, 29,020 individuals checked the box, 27,223 were found eligible and 2,962, or 10.8% of those deemed eligible, enrolled.
“We’re pleased with that 10%,” said Eberle. “Although it sounds low, it’s 10% more than we would have gotten otherwise.”
Most of the other taxpayers didn’t respond to the state’s outreach. Nevertheless, Eberle said the information collected from the tax returns could help her office to better target its marketing and education campaigns.
Maryland now puts this check box on its tax returns to initiate a process for enrolling residents in health insurance. Image credit: Maryland Health Benefit Exchange
Of those who enrolled in health care plans through their Maryland tax return, Eberle said nearly a quarter identified as Black and 20% as Latino. More than 40% were ages 18 to 34, a group notorious for low rates of insurance.
Nearly three-quarters of the new enrollees joined Medicaid. The rest enrolled in commercial plans, and about 95% of them qualified for federal tax credits, Eberle said.
Kentucky found another way to piggyback on a government agency’s functions to help boost health insurance enrollment.