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Maryland Health Insurance Enrollment Deadline Looms As Website Problems Persist

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Friday is the last day to enroll in health care plans offered by two medical carriers in Maryland to get coverage Jan. 1. There is a midnight deadline to purchase plans from CareFirst and United Healthcare to be covered at the start of 2014. Two other carriers, Evergreen Health Cooperative and Kaiser Foundation, have extended their deadlines until midnight Tuesday.  

But with time running out, some consumers are still struggling to enroll.

The rollout of Maryland Health Connection, the state-based health insurance marketplace, has been plagued with technical problems. Officials say the website has drawn more than 600,000 unique visitors. As of Dec. 14, fewer than 7,500 people had enrolled in qualified health plans.  

Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration says it has fixed nine major problems with the site. But, some say problems remain. Sheila Mackertich, vice president for health reform initiatives at Health Care Access Maryland, a sub-contractor that helps people navigate the website, said there has been incremental improvement. 

"Maybe in the beginning of the process trying to form an account and at the end when they want to do that kind of final submission, we're still encountering some issues in the beginning and in the end of the process," Mackertich said.

Maryland residents who enroll through the exchange on Friday will have until Jan. 15, 2014, to pay for their plans.

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