Less than a month before Delaware’s Health Insurance Marketplace opens for enrollment, state officials and community organizations said they are ready to begin the historic program to provide uninsured Delawareans greater access to affordable health care.
Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf and Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart were joined recently at a kickoff event for the marketplace by representatives of the four community organizations who will guide individuals, families and small business owners through the enrollment process. As part of the Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010, each state must establish a marketplace - formerly known as an exchange - for individuals who don’t have access to affordable health insurance through work or some other means.
In addition, small business owners can shop for plans for their employees through the Small Business Health Options Program. Enrollment for individuals and small businesses will begin Oct. 1. Information about the marketplace is available at www.ChooseHealthDE.com, the state’s official marketplace website, which is also available in Spanish.
“This is our collective opportunity to make affordable health insurance and quality health care available to the 90,000 Delawareans who don’t have insurance today,” Landgraf said. “With the help of the marketplace guides and our marketing campaign, we will spread the word that Delaware’s health insurance marketplace will be open for enrollment beginning Oct. 1. For so many individuals and families, this will mean the end to the fear that one accident or one illness could send them into a lifetime of debt.”
Stewart said the 68 marketplace guides from Brandywine Women’s Health Associates, Christiana Care, the Delmarva Foundation and Westside Family Healthcare are going through rigorous state and federal training, a proctored exam, and state and federal background checks before they are certified by the state to handle sensitive personal information.
“Delawareans will be able to trust the marketplace guides to help them through enrollment because of the extensive certification process,” Stewart said. “Each guide will have a badge with a certification number, and identification from their community organization and from the state. Beginning in the middle of this month, the guides will begin fanning out across the state to help individuals and small businesses with enrollment, including the possibility of tax credits to offset the costs.”
Delawareans also will receive assistance from federal navigators, who will be hired by Chatman LLC of Upper Marlboro, Md. Chatman LLC was awarded a federal grant. In addition, Delaware’s three federally qualified health centers, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, La Red Health Center and Westside Family Healthcare, received federal grants to help with consumer assistance.
Stewart said information on the rates for the plans on Delaware’s marketplace will be available before Oct. 1, after the federal government concludes its approval process. Three issuers have applied to Delaware’s marketplace: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware, Coventry Health and Life Insurance, and Coventry Health Care of Delaware. In addition, four stand-alone dental plans have applied to Delaware’s marketplace: Delta Dental, Dentegra, Dominion and Guardian. Because Delaware opted for a state-federal partnership marketplace, both the state and the federal government must approve the plans.
Delaware expects up to 35,000 people to enroll in the marketplace in the first year. To receive coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014, people must enroll by Dec. 15, 2013. Open enrollment for the 2014 plan year continues through March 31, 2014.
In addition, the state expects up to 30,000 Delawareans to be eligible under the Medicaid expansion that Gov. Jack Markell approved last year. On Jan. 1, 2014, Delaware’s Medicaid income eligibility will move from 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to a maximum of 138 percent FPL.
Landgraf said the federal government’s 24/7 Call Center, 800-318-2596, or TTY 855-889-4325 - can answer questions in 150 languages. If people don’t have access to a computer, they can call the toll-free number to get the help they need to enroll.