More than 14,700 Delawareans enrolled in health care coverage by March 31, the end of the six-month 2014 open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace, Secretary Rita Landgraf of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services has announced.
The total of 14,746 enrollees includes 11,335 individuals who selected a marketplace plan through HealthCare.gov or directly through an insurer and 3,411 others who enrolled as newly eligible clients under the state’s expanded Medicaid program.
The number of marketplace enrollees increased by 62 percent from the previous month, while the Medicaid enrollees increased 57 percent during the same period, Landgraf reported at the monthly meeting of the Delaware Health Care Commission.
The 11,335 marketplace-plan enrollees surpassed by more than 41 percent the target of 8,000 the federal government set for Delaware in September 2013, before open enrollment began. Even more Delawareans will get covered in 2014.
Those who were “in line” by March 31 - who tried to enroll but were unable to finish in time - have until April 15 to complete their enrollment.
Other individuals will qualify for federally designated special enrollment periods, letting them sign up between now and Nov. 15, when open enrollment for 2015 coverage begins. This includes those with complex cases involving Medicaid eligibility or other complications and those who experience life changes such as marriage, birth or adoption of a child, moving to Delaware or losing other health coverage. Those who want to find out if they qualify for a special enrollment period can go to www.HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.
“The surge in enrollments as the March 31 deadline neared is a clear sign that thousands of our neighbors want and need affordable health coverage and are attracted by the quality and affordability of the marketplace plans,” Landgraf said. “I am very pleased that so many Delawareans were able to connect to health coverage during the first enrollment period, especially in light of the significant obstacle created by HealthCare.gov’s startup problems.”
According to information provided by the private insurance companies participating in the marketplace in Delaware, 63 percent of those who picked plans by March 31 had paid their first month’s premium. That number is expected to rise, since individuals who enrolled between March 16 and March 31 have until April 30 to pay their first premium for coverage effective May 1. The insurers did not indicate if enrollees were previously uninsured.
“With open enrollment over, we are analyzing the trends and data so we understand what worked during this first year of this historic change in healthcare policy and what did not work,” Landgraf said. “Our goals are to integrate the marketplace into existing systems, to foster greater participation among Delawareans, especially those who are uninsured, and to provide for long-term sustainability.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are required to have health insurance or face a financial penalty, which will be assessed when they do their 2014 taxes next year. The penalty for not being covered in 2014 will be $95 per person ($47.50 per child under 18) or 1 percent of annual household income, whichever is higher. (Only the amount above the tax filing threshold of $10,150 is used to calculate the penalty.) The penalty increases every year. For 2015, it is the higher of 2 percent annual income or $325 per person. For 2016, it’s 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person.
Marketplace guides will remain available for those who need assistance with completing enrollments now or during a special enrollment period. To contact a guide and for updates on the Health Insurance Marketplace, go to www.ChooseHealthDE.com.
The next open enrollment period, for coverage in 2015, will run from Nov. 15, 2014, to Feb. 15, 2015.