AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Health Insurance Marketplace announced Oct. 17 that Maine people can now visit CoverME.gov, Maine’s official Health Insurance Marketplace, to preview affordable health plans for 2023 during the “window-shopping” period in advance of open enrollment, which kicks off Nov. 1.

During both the window-shopping period and open enrollment, consumers can use the “Plan Compare” tool to evaluate available private health insurance plans and estimate their costs without having to sign up for an account or complete a full application.

The tool also allows consumers to check whether their preferred health care providers are included in each plan’s network, and to view information about coverage and out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.

“We encourage all Maine people who need health insurance to visit CoverME.gov to explore affordable health plan options,” DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in a press release. “Even if you haven’t qualified for financial assistance in previous years, it’s worth checking again because coverage is more affordable than ever and there are new options for families.”

CoverME.gov was created as Maine’s state-run marketplace as a result of the Made for Maine Health Coverage Act, which Gov. Mills signed into law in 2020 following its unanimous passage by the Maine Legislature. During CoverME.gov’s first open enrollment in 2021-22, more than 66,000 Maine people signed up for 2022 coverage, an increase of more than 10% from 2021 and reversing declines in marketplace plan selections since 2017.

Next year, thousands of Maine people will save hundreds of dollars on average on their CoverME.gov health care premiums thanks to enhanced premium tax credits extended through 2025 as part of the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress and signed into law in August.

In addition to increasing affordability for people already eligible for financial assistance, the new law allows those with income over 400% of the poverty level to benefit from financial assistance if coverage otherwise would be unaffordable for them.

This provision particularly benefits older Mainers and those in rural areas, who often face higher premiums. In coverage year 2022, over 80% of consumers received financial assistance through CoverME.gov, with an average Advance Premium Tax Credit of $470, according to the DHHS press release.

Additionally, President Joe Biden announced last week that his administration has finalized a rule to fix the so-called “family glitch,” which will expand health insurance to an estimated 200,000 uninsured Americans, including 34,000 people in Maine.

As a result of the prior interpretation of policy, employer-based health insurance had been considered “affordable” if the plan was affordable for the employee even when their family members couldn’t afford it — making those family members ineligible for Affordable Care Act financial assistance. Under the recent federal change, family members can access financial help to enroll in a plan for 2023 coverage through CoverME.gov if they do not have any source of affordable coverage.

Also new in 2023, a new insurance carrier, Taro Health, will join Anthem, Community Health Options, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in providing health plans through CoverME.gov. Taro Health will offer plans to consumers in Cumberland County only, while the other three carriers will continue to offer plans to consumers in all Maine counties. Statewide, a total of 118 health plans will be offered.

Through CoverME.gov, Maine residents can compare qualified health insurance plans that include a comprehensive set of benefits and apply for help to lower the cost of coverage. Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15, 2023. The enrollment deadline for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2023, is Dec. 15. Consumers who enroll between Dec. 16 and Jan. 15, 2023, will have coverage starting on Feb. 1, 2023.

As in previous years, those who already have a plan through CoverME.gov will be automatically reenrolled in their current plan or the most similar offering from their health insurance carrier. OHIM still encourages consumers to update their information at CoverME.gov and review their options to make sure they choose the plan that best meets their needs and budget.

People who apply through CoverME.gov who are eligible for MaineCare will have their application sent to MaineCare for review. Eligible Maine people can enroll in MaineCare at any time of year.