There was a great deal of attention paid to getting people enrolled into insurance plans offered by the Maryland Health Connection by the Dec. 27 deadline for Jan. 1 coverage. Enrollment by this date ensured coverage on the very first day that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect. But the opportunity to get insurance coverage is not over. People can still get coverage by signing up during the open enrollment period which is from now until March 31. So the important next phase is educating those who have not signed up for coverage that they can in fact still sign up. Their coverage will then begin as early as 30 days after enrollment.

Those who did enroll in coverage that began on Jan. 1, must submit their first payment directly to their insurance carrier, and the carrier must receive the payment, no later than Jan. 15. Consumers should receive a communication from their insurance carrier within one to two weeks after enrollment, and should follow the instructions for paying their first invoice. Insurance carriers encourage electronic payments when possible. Failure to make timely payments could result in cancelled coverage.

People can directly enroll into a Qualified Health Plan by going to the website at For consumers who want assistance understanding the advanced premium tax credits, the cost sharing reductions or the Qualified Health Plans themselves, they can work with a certified navigator.

These are people who received state approved training, passed a certification exam and passed a state and a federal criminal background clearance.

Navigators travel to local communities throughout Maryland with laptops in hand and directly enroll consumers into Medicaid or insurance plans. “Certainly people who do not have a computer should meet with a navigator who will help them enroll, but also people who are computer literate may need to work with a navigator to help them understand the subsidies that are available and to explain the health plans,” said Priscilla Chatman, certified navigator and president of Chatman, LLC, a partner with Healthcare Access Maryland, Center Region Connecter Entity. For information on where navigators are stationed follow the AFRO on Facebook where Chatman, LLC’s enrollment sites will be listed daily.

There is no deadline for applying for Medicaid, the government health insurance plan for the low income. Under the new extended Medicaid only a person’s income is considered, assets and categories no longer apply. Previously an applicant for Medicaid had to fit into specific categories, such as being a parent raising minor children. Now a single man or woman can receive Medicaid if his or her income is below $15,000.

Contact Chatman, LLC at