NEW CASTLE — Delawareans have until Tuesday, Jan. 31, to enroll in or change their health coverage for 2017 through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Coverage for those who enroll by Jan. 31 and who pay their first premium will begin March 1.
State residents can sign up for coverage at www.HealthCare.gov or by calling 1 (800) 318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325). Federally funded, trained specialists are available through several Delaware organizations to provide free enrollment assistance. State-licensed insurance agents and brokers also can help individuals re-enroll and help employers update their coverage, at no extra charge. For contact information, go to www.ChooseHealthDE.com.
As of Dec. 24, more than 26,800 Delawareans had signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, an increase of 1.7 percent from the same period the previous year.
“The demand for affordable health care remains high for many Delawareans,” Delaware Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said. “Though there are uncertain times ahead for the Affordable Care Act, indications are that any changes to the law will not affect coverage for 2017. I am very hopeful that consumers who purchased 2017 plans on the Marketplace will continue to enjoy the many benefits under their plans.”
About 85 percent of those enrolled on Delaware’s Marketplace for 2016 received tax credits to help pay their monthly premiums. Financial help is available to individuals with an annual household income up to $47,520 and up to $97,200 for a family of four.
“Many people don’t realize that they may be eligible for tax credits to help pay their monthly premiums,” Secretary Landgraf said. “If you are uncertain about your eligibility based on your annual household income, it’s best to contact a local enrollment assister to help walk you through the process.”
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware, Aetna Health, and Aetna Life Insurance Company offer Marketplace medical plans in Delaware for 2017 – including 21 plans for individuals and 11 SHOP plans for small businesses. Two insurers – Delta Dental and Dominion Dental – offer a collective 15 stand-alone dental plans, 10 for individuals and five for small businesses.
In addition to the Health Insurance Marketplace, some residents might be eligible for coverage through Delaware’s expanded Medicaid program, which is open year-round. More than 10,000 Delawareans have received coverage under the Medicaid expansion. To be screened for eligibility or to apply for Medicaid benefits, go to Delaware ASSIST.
Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals who can afford health coverage, but who choose not to buy it are subject to paying a fee when they file their federal tax return for the year they don’t have coverage. For 2017, the fee will be equal to the higher of these amounts: 2.5 percent of annual household income or $695 per adult, plus $347.50 for each child under 18. The maximum amount is $2,085 per household. In addition to the fee, consumers will be responsible for the total cost of their health care expenses.
Consumers can estimate their penalty using the penalty calculator on ChooseHealthDE.com.
After open enrollment ends Jan. 31, Delawareans can enroll in coverage only if they experience a life event that qualifies them for a special enrollment period. Among the many qualifying life events are birth or adoption of a child, a permanent move, loss of other coverage, and marriage.
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