Delaware launches 'challenging' ACA enrollment

Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro speaks at an event launching the 2018 ACA enrollment. (Zoë Read/WHYY)

Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro speaks at an event launching the 2018 ACA enrollment. (Zoë Read/WHYY)

State officials in Delaware are urging residents to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Starting Wednesday, Delawareans can sign up for health insurance through its marketplace.

But with an enrollment period that’s been cut in half, from 90 days to 45 days, and calls from the GOP to end Obamacare, the call to action has been more pressing than ever.

“What we’ve seen in the past is folks will sign up at the last minute and it will overwhelm the system and there will be significant issues with that,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro.

“We’ve seen all over the country folks are confused, they think the ACA is dead. It is not dead and you must sign up, and sign up soon.”

The 11,000 Delawareans with Aetna coverage must switch plans, as the insurance company pulled out of Delaware’s marketplace in May.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, now the only option in Delaware, hiked its premiums by 25 percent for next year.

Individuals who don’t enroll may face a $695 penalty per adult or 2.5 percent of their annual household income.

State officials say individuals will still be able to offset those costs through the cost share reduction.

About 27,000 Delawareans have insurance through the marketplace this year. About 80 percent of them receive financial assistance to help pay their monthly premiums.

Delaware Secretary of Health Dr. Kara Odom Walker said half of last year’s enrollments occurred within two weeks before the deadline.

“We know if people delay when they have illness and injury people end up in the emergency room, they end up hospitalized, they end up with worse conditions we could have prevented, and I am very concerned if we don’t encourage people to go on the marketplace people will delay their care,” she said.

Gov. John Carney, D-Delaware, also emphasized the importance of ensuring Delawareans are covered by health insurance.

“When I think about the challenges we face as a state making sure every single Delawarean has access to quality healthcare that has to be up there at the top,” he said. “Especially, when we talk about our young people, our hopes and aspirations, what we do for them in our schools, institutions of higher learning, making sure they come to school every day healthy and with the kind of preventative medicine they need is incredibly important, making sure their parents have that support is important as well.”

For more information on Delaware’s marketplace, go to www.ChooseHealthDE.com.

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