Delaware preps for new health insurance marketplace [video]

With just one month until Delaware’s new health insurance marketplace goes online, state health officials have unveiled a marketing initiative to educate the public on the program.

The health insurance marketing campaign is targeted at the 90,000 Delawareans who are currently without health insurance.

Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, said many uninsured individuals put off health care because they don’t believe they’ll be able to afford it.

“What I believe people would do is just not address their health,” she says. “And many times, they may not feel well, they would see things but not get checked out for fear that that would be a huge out of pocket expense for them. Many times we hear of people going into debt because of their health care.”

Landgraf said a common misconception is that the uninsured are unemployed. In many cases, she said the uninsured are employed, middle class individuals who don’t get health insurance through work and don’t think they can afford to purchase a policy on their own.

The health exchange program will provide easy to understand information through the state’s official health insurance marketplace website,, where customers will be able to shop and compare plans easily beginning Oct. 1.

Businesses can also gather health insurance information however the will not be required to provide health insurance to employees until 2015.

Landgraf added that Medicaid is also expanding as part of the Affordable Care Act.

“The Medicaid program, which is actually health insurance for those who are impoverished, will be expanded to include people who are up to 138 percent of federal poverty level,” she said.

Additionally, she said those in the 139 percent to 400 percent of federal poverty will get subsidies to support plan payments in the exchange.

“We believe that through this opportunity, people not only will have access to insurance, they will have greater access to wellness programs, prevention programs,” said Landgraf.

The state is also in the process of training 68 marketplace guides (MPGs) to help individuals find the best plan to fit both their health needs and budget.  

Christiana Care Health System is one of four organizations in the state that will provide MPGs.

“We will have nine guides, all of whom will be certified through the state’s training program,” explained Dr. Janice Nevin, chief medical officer for Christiana Care Health System. “They will be positioned in our hospitals, our emergency departments and our many community based sites. They will work not only to get our neighbors access to insurance, but most importantly link them to a medical home so they will have access to care.”

Other MPG partners include Brandywine Women’s Health Associates, Delmarva Foundation and Westside Family Healthcare.

Through the new initiatives, Nevin said they expect to enroll about 30,000 additional members in Medicaid and 35,000 individuals through the insurance marketplace.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal