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ACA enrollment may continue decline despite lower premiums as deadline approaches

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State health officials say the number of Delawareans signing up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act is slightly lower than a year ago.

As of Dec. 7, the state counts 10,196 people signing up for 2020 coverage through Delaware’s Health Insurance Marketplace. That’s a 1.7% decrease from a similar time last year.  The state ultimately enrolled more than 22,500 people for 2019 coverage.

Lagging enrollment comes despite premiums in Delaware dropping for the first time since the ACA became law seven years ago. That 19% average decrease is aided in part by a new reinsurance program setting aside a $27 million mix of federal and state funds meant to reimburse high-cost health care claims.

Delaware is one of seven states to see a double digit decrease in premiums.

Delaware DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker says the state has been working to get the word out and hopes to end the annual trend of decreasing enrollment in Delaware.

“We want to keep pushing out information and make sure that people know there are opportunities for them to enroll,” said Walker. “Last year we saw more than half of Delaware’s enrollments happen during that final week, which we’re in right now. So we’re encouraging everyone to look at their options at healthcare.gov.”   

Enrollment numbers nationally are slightly down as well with 3.8 million people signing up as of Dec. 7.

“While I don’t have a crystal ball, unfortunately, and can’t predict what enrollment will do, it does look like we’re on track to fall just shy of last year’s enrollment figure,” said Joshua Peck, co-founder of the healthcare.gov outreach group Get America Covered.

Peck says if the total enrollment number is close to last year, it will end the trend of the last few years where enrollment dropped consistently by hundreds of thousands.

The federal government’s updated Medicare site has been having problems with glitches this enrollment period, but Walker says the website for ACA enrollment is working fine.

“We have heard about the Medicare glitches. Fortunately, at healthcare.gov we have not heard [of] any glitches, but we really want to encourage people not to wait until the last day, because you just never know,” she said.   

Open enrollment ends this Sunday, Dec. 15.

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