Lone Delaware ACA insurer files for 33.6 percent increase

DOVER — Highmark, the lone insurance to file for the 2018 Affordable Care Act Marketplace, has proposed a 33.6 percent increase in costs, Delaware’s Department of Insurance said Wednesday.

The prepared statement from the insurance commissioner’s office said the requested rate increase assumes that the cost-sharing subsidies and individual mandate will not be in place for 2018.

“Highmark BCBSD’s proposed rate will be thoroughly vetted by the DOI and its independent actuaries before a final rate is determined,” the statement said.

In May, Aetna, Inc. announced its plans to withdraw from the Affordable Care Act’s Insurance Marketplace effective Jan. 1, 2018. leaving Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware as the only health insurer to have filed products and rates for Delaware’s 2018 “Obamacare” market.

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

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., released a statement critical of the government’s handling of health care for Americans.

“This news makes clear what we’ve known for months — the federal government’s continued sabotage of the Affordable Care Act is creating tremendous uncertainty in our individual insurance marketplaces, Sen. Carper said.

“The result is skyrocketing premiums for hardworking families who may no longer be able to afford coverage. Every American should be able to get to the doctor to stay as healthy as possible and to get treatment when they’re sick, and we in Congress should be doing everything we can to make that possible. Every day, but especially today, my colleagues and I should summon our better angels and work across party lines to make bipartisan improvements to our health care system that improve health outcomes and lower health care costs for all Americans.”

Trinadad Navarro

Approximately 27,000 Delawareans have health insurance through the Marketplace and will be affected by increasing rates and/or insurer withdrawals.

The insurance commissioner’s statement said it is important to note that the proposed rate increase will not apply to Delawareans on Medicaid or those with group or individual policies outside of the 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 Commissioner Navarro. “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.”

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