Maryland's troubled Obamacare marketplace is on the verge of becoming the first state-run exchange to partner with a Web-based insurance broker to sell subsidized insurance coverage, sources told CNBC.com Thursday.
Maryland's exchange intends to award online insurance giant eHealth the sole contract for a "pilot program," sources said. That program would allow eHealth's site to enroll single, individual customers in Obamacare plans who qualify for government tax credits to lower their insurance costs.
EHealth also is hoping to sign a similar or possibly more expansive deal soon with Oregon, whose own Obamacare exchange has been crippled by technical troubles that have left it unable to enroll a single person via its website. Spokesmen for Cover Oregon, that state's exchange, could not be reached for comment.
The deals could boost enrollment on both of the lagging exchanges by taking advantage of eHealth's marketing muscle, as CEO Gary Lauer has been urging for years.
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Maryland's Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene Dr. Joshua Sharfstein would not confirm sources' claim that eHealth was the sole company to be awarded the pilot program, but said, "We hope we will have an announcement soon."