Open enrollment begins for coverage next year under Affordable Care Act
The fifth open enrollment period to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, begins Wednesday and lasts until December 15th.The six-week enrollment is half what it was in previous years after being cut by the Trump administration. The advertising budget for the enrollment period was also cut by 90 percent.
And premiums are up - rising 25 percent this year in Delaware - where Highmark is the only insurer offering plans after Aetna dropped out this year. Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro points to the Trump administration’s halting of Cost Sharing Reduction Payments as a reason for the increased cost in Delaware and nationwide.
“I’ve heard the administration say the word bailout—quite frankly, it’s not a bailout. It’s not a bailout for the insurance industry. What the CSRs did was help people who qualified for the tax subsidies to actually afford health insurance,” said Navarro.
Delaware currently has over 27,000 people enrolled for coverage through its Health Insurance Marketplace - and the Department of Health and Social Services says 81% of them receive financial assistance to help pay their monthly premiums and/or deductibles and co-pays.
In addition to the shorter sign up period, the ACA website will be down on Sundays for maintenance. State officials urge Delawareans to sign up soon.
“Individuals need to go to healthcare.gov and sign up as soon as possible,” said Navarro. “I say that because each year we see a mad rush toward the end of the enrollment period and this year we are predicting that will happen again. And what has happened in the past is the system has been overwhelmed.”