Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Date: November 14, 2014
STANTON (Nov. 14, 2014) - Delaware will launch the second open enrollment period of its Health Insurance Marketplace on Saturday, ready to build on the success of season one in which 14,400 Delawareans signed up for private health coverage. U.S. Sen. Tom Carper joined Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf, Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart and others in marking the launch during a kickoff event Friday at Delaware Technical Community College's Stanton Campus.
Open enrollment for health coverage in 2015 runs from Nov. 15 through Feb. 15 on HealthCare.gov. Individuals must sign up by Dec. 15 for coverage to be effective Jan. 1. Policies for all current enrollees expire on Dec. 31.
Key features of the Health Insurance Marketplace in Delaware for 2015 include:
While insurance companies will automatically renew many consumers' coverage, everyone who bought a marketplace plan should go to HealthCare.gov to update their household income and other personal information, review their current coverage, and check out the new plans. "We strongly encourage consumers to make sure their current plan still meets their needs and to see if they might be eligible for lower costs," DHSS Secretary Landgraf said.
Also attending Friday's kickoff event were two Delawareans who talked about how their lives have improved since enrolling in coverage through the marketplace.
"Having health coverage has made a big difference in my life," said Felipe Hernandez, 25, a machine operator from Wilmington. "I've gone to the doctor for exams, blood work, and medications to prevent future illness. My health has improved a lot." Hernandez, who pays a monthly premium of about $73, said he is now less stressed and more hopeful about the future for him, his wife, Irene, and their 20-month-old daughter. He hopes to buy a house and says having health insurance will help him avoid big hospital bills and keep him out of debt. "I'm not going to go broke because I get sick."
Stephanie Brown, 32, of Smyrna, is relieved that with her new marketplace coverage, she can now get the daily medications her 6-year-old son, Connor, needs to control his ADHD and asthma. She was working as a hospital unit clerk when her hours were reduced to part-time and she lost her prescription coverage. "I was paying $160 a month for my medical plus out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions. Now I don't have to scramble and get coupons. This program has been a godsend for me, and Connor is a healthy, active 6-year-old boy because of it."
Hernandez's and Brown's stories show the importance of connecting people to coverage and to care, Landgraf said. "Making that connection is how we build a healthier Delaware. Access to care is the first step in enabling consumers to take control of their health needs. We look forward to many more Delawareans gaining that access during the coming open enrollment period and beyond."
Sen. Carper enrolled in a marketplace plan last year and will re-enroll this year. "As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I worked with my colleagues in both parties to develop and pass a comprehensive health care reform law that made the health insurance marketplace possible," he said. "The marketplace allows individuals and small businesses in Delaware to gain purchasing power similar to that of large companies, and be able to compare, shop for, and choose insurance plans that best meet both their health and financial needs. Moving toward a health insurance system that harnesses the power of market forces and competition will help to drive down health insurance costs for everyone and improve access to health care."
"I encourage Delawareans to take advantage of this chance to get quality healthcare coverage at rates they can afford," said U.S. Rep. John Carney, who was unable to attend the kickoff. "The Affordable Care Act isn't perfect. In fact, I'm working with my colleagues in Congress to make coverage under the law more affordable and drive down health care costs overall. In the meantime, Delaware's marketplace offers a host of solid options that 14,000 of our friends and neighbors have already started benefiting from."
While consumers in some states will face double-digit premium increases in 2015, Commissioner Stewart reported better news for Delawareans. "I negotiated with Highmark/Blue Cross Blue Shield to keep their rate increases at 3.99 percent, down from a requested 5 percent. And Aetna actually submitted a request which reflected a small reduction in rates. So sticker shock should be kept to a minimum for Delawareans who buy marketplace plans in 2015."
In addition to the Health Insurance Marketplace, some residents might be eligible for coverage though Delaware's expanded Medicaid program, which continues year-round. More than 9,000 individuals have received coverage under the Medicaid expansion in the past year.
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.