More than 8,000 Mainers have signed up for health insurance coverage for 2022 on the state’s new Health Insurance Marketplace since open enrollment began on Nov. 1.

Through last Friday, 8,278 Mainers chose plans for health coverage through CoverME.gov. The figure includes 862 new enrollees as well as 7,416 returning customers.

CoverME.gov enables a state resident to buy Affordable Care Act insurance for 2022 through a new state website rather than the federal government’s healthcare.gov website, where Maine people have bought so-called Obamacare insurance since 2014. A total of 15 states, including all of New England except New Hampshire, have been using state-based marketplaces rather than the federal version.

The health care plans will remain the same, but a state-run marketplace could give Maine some advantages. The state will have more control over the marketplace and should be able to improve and personalize public outreach efforts.

“We are encouraged that, in less than two weeks, more than 8,000 Maine people shopped for and selected affordable, quality health plans through CoverME.gov for 2022,” Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement Thursday. “As open enrollment continues through Jan. 15, 2022, we urge anyone in need of health insurance to visit CoverME.gov to check out options and sign up for a plan. Coverage is more important and affordable than ever.”

Gove. Janet Mills directed the DHHS’ Office of the Health Insurance Marketplace to extend the open enrollment deadline this year by one month, into January. However, applicants who want coverage to begin Jan. 1 must enroll by Dec. 15.

The state has been promoting the marketplace through social and digital media, ads on buses, bus shelters, diner placemats, TV and radio ads, and outreach to underserved populations, including Maine’s immigrant communities. The state said 26,724 people have visited the CoverME.gov website. In addition, the Consumer Assistance Center has received 9,549 inquiries about the program.

More than 80 percent of people who enroll will qualify for help paying for health insurance with funds from the federal American Rescue Plan, according to the state marketplace office.

The Biden administration beefed up subsidies for ACA enrollees through the American Rescue Plan bill, and now 25 percent of enrollees have a monthly premium of $10 or less. Even those applicants who were not eligible in the past can likely get assistance to lower their monthly premiums and other out-of-pocket costs, the state said.

A total of 71 health care plans are being offered.

Since 2020, Maine has been operating a hybrid form of the marketplace, with the state overseeing marketing and outreach, and the federal government handling signups. About 55,000 people in Maine have ACA marketplace insurance, down from about 70,000 in 2019, largely because Maine expanded Medicaid that year.

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