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With decreased premiums, enrollment increases for ACA in Delaware

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Across the country, enrollment is down again this year for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but not in Delaware.

Delaware’s Health Insurance Marketplace increased its patient pool by more than 6% during the open enrollment period for 2020 coverage. Almost 24,000 Delawareans signed up this year compared to about 22,500 last year.

The state has seen a steady decline in enrollment paired with a steady increase in premiums since the ACA became law seven years ago. But this year’s increased enrollment comes as premiums in Delaware dropped for the first time to the tune of 19%.

Meanwhile, Enrollment on the national level declined slightly with about 8.3 million people signing up.

DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker says new rules allowing more state control of the marketplace has helped Delaware. 

“These state-based waivers to look at what works for each individual state is truly important,” said Walker. “Obviously, our marketplace is small. We’ve mostly only had one insurer and so that makes it much harder to allow competitive market forces to create affordability.”   

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware is the lone ACA insurer in the First State. Walker credits its drop in premiums in part to Delaware’s new reinsurance program. The program sets 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 for 2020 coverge.

Walker says many people signed up on the final day of open enrollment causing a glitch on the federal website. The state extended the enrollment period an extra two days in response.

“Since the ACA has been implemented, we have seen glitches in almost every cycle,” she said. “So it’s almost to be expected. We try to let people know don’t wait, because this will probably happen.”   

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled the ACA ‘s individual mandate unconstitutional last week. It sent the case back to a lower court judge to reconsider if the entire law is valid.

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