Delaware sees increase in health care enrollment

Nearly 25,000 Delawareans picked a health care plan this year through the health insurance marketplace, roughly 10,000 more compared to last year.

This week, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services announced that 24,887 consumers had picked a plan or were automatically re-enrolled as of Feb. 15, the final day of open enrollment. That figure does not include those who started the process, but couldn’t finish because of technical issues with HealthCare.gov or long wait times while calling the federal marketplace call center. Those individuals who were “in line” have until Feb. 22 to complete the sign-up process.

Wednesday’s federal report did not say how many Delawareans were in line by the deadline.

Delaware’s Dept. of Health and Social Services said the 24,887 total represents a 13 percent increase since Feb. 6. DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf added 11 percent of all enrollments in Delaware occurred in the last nine days of open enrollment.

“We believed that activity would increase in the days before the deadline and this report bears that out,” Landgraf said. “I encourage those who couldn’t finish their enrollments last weekend to do so by Feb. 22, so that they can enjoy the many benefits that come with being covered and connecting to quality care.”

Landgraf encouraged those who need help with the process to go to ChooseHealthDE.com for a list of enrollment specialists.

During the 2014 open enrollment period that ended last April, 14,397 Delawareans selected a marketplace plan. Landgraf said the state hopes to receive information on the age, race, ethnicity and other characteristics of Delaware’s enrollees in time for the next meeting of the Delaware Health Care Commission on March 5.

Nationwide, the report showed about 11.4 million Americans selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled during the 2015 open enrollment period, which began Nov. 15 of last year.

“We had a strong open enrollment,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said. “And in the final day, more new consumers signed up for health coverage than on any other day this open enrollment or last.”

Penalties for not having health insurance kick in this year. When filing your 2014 tax return, if you did not have insurance and did not qualify for an exemption in 2014, you are subject to a fine of $95 per person or 1 percent of your annual income, whichever is higher. The penalty goes up to 2 percent in 2015.

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