Shaky health insurance market could force Delawareans to pay up

(Zimmytws/Bigstock)

(Zimmytws/Bigstock)

Thousands of Delawareans could be forced to pay more for medical care if health insurers increase rates and continue to pull out of the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.

“Without competition from other companies and with the Affordable Care Act’s fate left up to members of the federal government who appear to oppose it, we are in a difficult position,” said Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, a Democrat.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware requested a rate increase of 33.6% for its 2018 individual Marketplace business. The Delaware Department of Insurance received the request this week, but it hasn’t been approved at this time.

In Delaware, Highmark BCBCD is currently the only health insurer listed with products under the state’s 2018 ACA Insurance Marketplace. Aetna Inc. announced plans to withdraw from the market effective January 1, 2018.

“In addition, it is unclear whether the ACA individual mandate will be enforced next year. If the Federal Government fails to live up to its obligations under the law, insurers will likely continue to exit the Marketplace,” Navarro said.

The Highmark BCBSD increase could affect 27,000 Delawareans with health insurance through the ACA known to many as “Obamacare.”

“Highmark’s proposed rate increase reflects the fact that the Federal Government could cut funding for the ACA by discontinuing cost-sharing reduction subsidies,” Navarro said. “Cost-sharing reduction subsidies are passed on to insurers to assist lower income individuals and families.”

According to officials, the proposed rate increase will not apply to Delawareans on Medicaid or people with policies outside of the Marketplace.

“My job is to pursue premium fairness and increased competition. I will continue to work with Senators Carper and Coons and Congresswoman Blunt-Rochester’s offices to fight for the best interests of the people of Delaware,” Commissioner Navarro said.

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