Waiver could lower costs for health care via marketplace

DOVER — The federal government this week approved a waiver aimed at lowering costs for individuals who buy health care through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave the OK for the state to create a reinsurance program funded by federal dollars and fees collected from health insurance carriers by the Delaware Department of Insurance. The Delaware Health Care Commission will administer the program, which is set to begin in 2020 and is authorized through 2024.

“The number one complaint/comment we receive from consumers at the Department of Insurance is the high cost of health insurance, especially from those who are not eligible for tax credits,” Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro said in a statement.

“With this new waiver program, people who earn above 400 percent of the federal poverty level, small business owners and those who are not covered by their employers will save up to 20 percent on their health insurance premiums in the individual market.”

It applies only to those who purchase coverage on the individual market, including people who are not eligible for coverage at their workplace, are too young for Medicare, make too much money to be eligible for Medicaid, have aged off their parents’ plans or are self-employed.

CMS approval was the final step in a monthslong process that included a recommendation from a working group and enabling legislation passed by the General Assembly in June. Delaware is the 11th state to receive authorization for a reinsurance program.

The fund created by the reinsurance program is expected to total about $27 million.

About 21,000 people enrolled for coverage on Delaware’s Health Insurance Marketplace this year. Open enrollment for 2020 will begin Nov. 1 and run through Dec. 15.

To learn more about the marketplace, go to ChooseHealthDE.com.

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