Highmark seeks 5.7% increase for Obamacare

DOVER — The Department of Insurance announced Wednesday Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware is seeking a 5.7 percent rate increase for the 2019 Marketplace.

Established through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the Marketplace is set up to allow individuals without health care to buy plans.

The requested increase would not impact Delawareans on Medicare or Medicaid or those with coverage outside the Marketplace, such as through their employer.

In October, the department announced a 25 percent increase in rates for 2018. Highmark, which became the only provider in Delaware’s marketplace when Aetna withdrew in May 2017, had asked for a 33.6 percent rate hike.

“While I am pleased to see that Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware’s initial filing is significantly lower than in previous years, this increase comes on top of an already expensive product for thousands of families,” Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro said in a statement. “As Insurance Commissioner, I will continue to protect the interests of Delaware consumers. The DOI and its team of independent actuaries will evaluate Highmark BCBSD’s proposed rate increase before a final rate is approved.”

About 20,000 Delawareans have coverage through the Marketplace, down from 27,000 in October, according to the department. Under the ACA, most people are required to either have health insurance or pay a fine.

Highmark’s requested increase focuses on silver plans, which are what the federal government uses to determine subsidies given to low-income enrollees. “Silver-loading,” as the practice is known, can result in bronze and gold plans becoming much cheaper. President Trump last year ended some subsidies, increasing the cost of certain plans.

The Department of Insurance will host a meeting on the proposal at its Dover office at 841 Silver Lake Boulevard on July 30 from 6-8 p.m. Attendees will learn about the rate filing and can ask questions and submit comments. Members of the Department of Insurance will be on hand as will representatives from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The agency will also take public comments online at https://insurance.delaware.gov.

Highmark did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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