In a year when the nation’s attention is firmly focused on healthcare and its costs, Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro has announced another reduction in rates on the Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace.
Despite insurer costs related to COVID-19 testing and treatment, Navarro negotiated an average decrease of 1 percent in health insurance rates. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware, which offers the state’s Affordable Care Act health plans, initially submitted a reduction of 0.5 percent. The commissioner’s final rate announcement comes after an independent actuarial review and public comments on the insurer’s proposal.
“I am proud to announce today the second consecutive rate decrease for Delaware’s Affordable Care Act plans. Amid a global pandemic, it is more important than ever for residents to have access to affordable insurance. Given the difficult economic climate, more people are relying on the marketplace for the coverage they need,” said Navarro. “With this decrease, we send a strong message about the effectiveness of the ACA during its 10th anniversary year. We will continue to fight to ensure access to affordable coverage for all Delawareans.”
In 2019, after successfully applying for a 1332 reinsurance waiver, the state was able to negotiate an average rate decrease of 19 percent for 2020 plans. This year’s modest reduction reflects market stabilization following the implementation of reinsurance.
After the rate reductions for the 2020 plan year, enrollment spiked by 6.3 percent during the traditional enrollment period. As of the start of the year, nearly 24,000 Delaware residents participated in marketplace-offered plans. While the federal government has not opened enrollment in response to COVID-19, residents losing employer-sponsored health coverage due to the economic impacts of the pandemic may qualify for special enrollment outside the traditional enrollment period.
Open enrollment for the marketplace takes place between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15 each year. However, residents may qualify to enroll or change plans based on special circumstances, such as a loss of qualifying health coverage, change of income, becoming a parent and several other qualifying factors. To learn about qualifications for special enrollment, go to healthcare.gov/screener/.
The news of the second consecutive rate decrease comes as the department is implementing other consumer cost-of-care protection efforts, including regulating pharmacy benefit managers to control and reduce medication costs, and continuing efforts to create an Office of Value-Based Healthcare Delivery to focus on primary care affordability and availability.
The proposed rate decrease does not apply to Medicare, Medicaid, or those with group or individual policies outside the marketplace.