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Date: February 3, 2022
NEW CASTLE (Feb. 3, 2022) - With strong public demand for coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, enhanced federal subsidies, and Delaware's reinsurance program keeping the cost of monthly premiums relatively steady, enrollment on Delaware's Health Insurance Marketplace for 2022 set an all-time high, increasing 26.8% over the open enrollment total for 2021.
During Delaware's ninth open enrollment period, which began on Nov. 1, 2021, and ended Jan. 15, 2022, a total of 32,113 Delawareans enrolled for health insurance on HealthCare.gov. During the previous year, sign-ups during the open enrollment period totaled 25,320. For those who enrolled by Dec. 15, 2021, and paid their first premium, coverage began Jan. 1, 2022. For those who enrolled by Jan. 15, 2022, and paid their first premium, coverage began Feb. 1, 2022.
"We are pleased that an increasing number of Delawareans decided to buy coverage through Delaware's Health Insurance Marketplace," Governor John Carney said. "Being able to provide access to high-quality, affordable health care is one of the cornerstones of the Affordable Care Act. We are grateful to the Biden administration and the Congressional Delegation for providing enhanced federal subsidies on the marketplace plans to help improve access to health insurance for Delawareans."
The Biden administration used American Rescue Plan Act funds to increase tax credits and expand subsidies further into the middle class. For instance, a family of four (both parents in their 40s) making $50,000 were eligible for a tax credit of roughly $16,500, compared with $14,300 previously. The vast majority of enrollees on Delaware's marketplace were eligible for financial assistance, which helps to reduce the cost of monthly premiums and/or deductibles, and also lowers out-of-pocket health care costs.
"As we begin the recovery from COVID-19, providing this crucial access to high-quality, affordable health care is another way we will improve the overall health and well-being of Delawareans," said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Molly Magarik. "We urge everyone to use their coverage to get caught up on necessary screenings, vaccines and annual check-ups, and to work with health care providers to manage chronic health conditions, address emerging health care needs, and to improve their overall physical and behavioral health."
Delawareans were able to choose from 13 health plans on the health insurance marketplace through Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware. Two dental insurers - Delta Dental of Delaware, Inc. and Dominion Dental Services, Inc. - offer stand-alone dental plans on the marketplace. Monthly premiums for the 2022 health plans were about 3% higher on average than the 2021 plans due in part to increases in prescription costs and an anticipation of elective procedures resuming after being postponed due to the pandemic. This year's single-digit increase in premiums follows decreases the previous two enrollment years, totaling more than 19%. Federal subsidies cut consumer costs across the country by an average of 40%, negating the small increase in base rates.
"Delaware's Health Insurance Marketplace has seen great success in reducing our uninsured population - but the fact is that the pandemic increased it due to loss of employer-provided coverage. With the federal subsidies expanding, the 2021 Special Enrollment Period, and an extended enrollment period for 2022 plans, we were able to reach many of those in need of comprehensive coverage at an affordable price," said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro.> "It is my hope that Congress will not let the enhanced assistance expire at the end of the year so we can continue to serve those economically disadvantaged and middle-income families who have been hit hardest by the financial impacts of the pandemic."
In June 2019, Governor Carney signed enabling legislation to create a reinsurance program in Delaware, and in August 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) authorized the program. The program has lowered health insurance premiums for plans sold in the individual insurance market by partially reimbursing insurers for high-cost health care claims through a fund that uses a mix of federal funding and assessments collected by the Delaware Department of Insurance from health insurance carriers. Because the insurers' claims costs are lower, the insurers can reduce the cost of premiums or limit increases. Delaware's reinsurance program, which began Jan. 1, 2020, is administered by the Delaware Health Care Commission. In September 2021, the Biden administration awarded Delaware $10.8 million through CMS to improve access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage through its section 1332 state-based reinsurance waiver.
With the end of open enrollment on the health insurance marketplace, Delawareans can enroll for coverage only if they experience a life event that qualifies them for a special enrollment period. Among the many qualifying life events are birth or adoption of a child, a permanent move, loss of other coverage through a job, and marriage or divorce. Visit HealthCare.gov/screener/ to see if you qualify. In addition to the health insurance marketplace, some Delawareans might be eligible for coverage through Delaware's expanded Medicaid program, which is open year-round. More than 10,000 Delawareans have received coverage under the Medicaid expansion. To be screened for eligibility or to apply for Medicaid benefits, go to Delaware ASSIST.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.