By Carla Anderson
March 7, 2014
Choose Health Delaware is the state’s health insurance marketplace, which is operated in partnership with the federal government. Under the partnership model, Delaware has regulatory oversight of health plans operating on the exchange and handles consumer outreach functions. The federal government is responsible for determining who is eligible to purchase insurance and who qualifies for subsidies, enrolling eligible consumers, and operating the marketplace website and call center.
As of Feb. 28, nearly 7,000 Delaware residents have enrolled in private health plans and 2,168 qualified for Medicaid. Delaware set a goal of enrolling 35,000 people during the first open enrollment period. That target was set in 2010. In September 2013, the federal government estimated just 8,000 Delawareans would sign up in the first year. Landgraf, citing the problems with HealthCare.gov in October and November that severely hampered enrollment, acknowledged that the final figure for 2014 open enrollment will likely be much closer to the federal estimate.
Based on the Feb. 12 HHS enrollment report, 21 percent of Delaware residents who selected a health plan were age 34 or younger. Nationally, the rate is 25 percent. Younger adults are generally healthier and less expensive to cover, so insurers are hopeful enough of them will sign up to balance the higher cost of covering older adults who may be less healthy. Delaware residents showed a greater preference for higher premium/lower deductible plans than the national average. In Delaware, 24 percent selected gold plans and 9 percent selected platinum plans; nationally, the figures were 12 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Seventy-seven percent of people in Delaware who enrolled in a health plan qualified for financial assistance, compared to 82 percent nationally.
Enrollment for private insurance in 2014 continues through March 31. Individuals who remain uninsured after March may face a tax penalty of $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater. Enrollment for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) continues throughout the year.
In Delaware 73 marketplace guides and navigators are helping individuals obtain coverage. Assistance is available at facilities operated by Brandywine Women’s Health Associates, Christiana Care, the Delmarva Foundation and Westside Family Healthcare.
Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Coventry are offering 19 health plan options for individuals and families through the marketplace in Delaware. According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the average cost for a bronze plan —the lowest-cost option — in Delaware is $308 a month. The national average for a bronze policy is $249 a month.
While several states adopted a partnership exchange as an incremental step toward an eventual state-run exchange, Delaware is unlikely to go that route according Rita Landgraf, cabinet secretary of the state Health and Social Services department. Delaware may, however, consider a regional partnership in the future, whereby the state would partner with one or more other states. A regional partnership would spread administrative cost over a wider population and increase the size of the risk pool.
Choose Health Delaware
Health Benefit Exchange information
Exchange information from the Delaware Health Care Commission
State Exchange Profile: Delaware
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Delaware’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Let your Delaware governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.Delaware Governor Jack Markell