Workers’ Comp. Insurance Rates Drop for Fourth Consecutive Year

Decrease and Workplace Safety Program save businesses money during unprecedented time

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro announced today that workers’ compensation insurance rates will decrease for the fourth year in a row, effective December 1, 2020. The voluntary market is seeing yet another double-digit decrease in loss costs, with an average 11.56% reduction, and residual market rates will go down an average of 8.8%.

“For four consecutive years we have been able to decrease workers’ compensation costs for businesses of all sizes. This year’s reduction will help decrease business expenses as we continue to experience the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Commissioner Navarro. “These lower costs can attract new companies to our state and increase employment opportunities as many organizations look to move out of major metropolitan areas.”

The Delaware Compensation Rating Bureau (DCRB) approved the lower rates after discussion with the Department of Insurance and the State’s Ratepayer Advocate. The approval process includes a review by actuaries for the parties, as well as a public hearing. It is important to note that actual savings may differ and will vary by policy. Last year’s decreases saved businesses more than $4 million in premiums.

These lower rates are just one component of several efforts shepherded by the Department to help businesses financially. More than 1,100 employers are saving even more money on their workers’ compensation premiums by participating in the department’s Workplace Safety Program. Last year’s savings was approximately $7.6 million. Eligible businesses can earn up to a 19% discount on their insurance by providing and maintaining a safe place to work.

“Now more than ever, increasing workplace safety and decreasing business overhead is so important,” said Commissioner Navarro. “Our inspectors are working extremely hard to negotiate challenges caused by COVID-19 and are doing an impressive job completing safety audits during these extraordinarily unusual circumstances. I want to commend them and our entire Workplace Safety team for their incredible work.”

Eligible businesses are notified about the program each year seven months prior to their renewal date, but late applications are being accepted as many businesses were closed when they were notified of their eligibility. Organizations interested in participating can access questionnaires online and contact safety@delaware.gov to begin the process.

Interested employers are urged to note on their questionnaires their current hours and best point of contact if these have been adjusted due to COVID-19 so inspectors can plan site visits. A physical walkthrough is still required for employers to earn a safety discount. Only benefits can be gained by participating, failure to qualify cannot be the basis for premium increases or sanctions imposed by other safety enforcement officials.

View the DCRB website


Overdose Medication Distribution Planned For Smyrna Wednesday

Commissioner Navarro to provide Naloxone kits and training at event

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, in collaboration with Public Health’s Kent County Community Response Team, the First Presbyterian Church of Smyrna, and the Smyrna-Clayton Ministerium will provide free training and opioid rescue kits to residents on Wednesday, October 14 from 2:00 to 5:00PM. The event, taking place outdoors at the First Presbyterian Church of Smyrna, 118 W. Commerce St. will offer both drive-through and walk up options in order to maintain social distancing.

“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t forget about the opioid epidemic. Addiction has its grip on our community, and with this event and others, we can make sure that Naloxone gets to individuals and families who may need it during an opioid overdose emergency” said Commissioner Navarro. “While we continue to work to ensure that treatment for those with drug dependencies is affordable and accessible, events like these offer an opportunity to increase awareness and education life-saving techniques and tools.”

Attendees will spend roughly ten minutes being trained to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose emergency, as well as learning about local treatment and support resources. Opioid Rescue Kits, each containing two doses of Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, will be distributed. Residents who are at risk of experiencing and overdose, or individuals whose loved ones may be at risk, are strongly encouraged to attend.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, do not wait, find help today. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health launched the 24/7 Hope line to serve as a single point of contact for resources, info, clinical and peer support, and crisis assistance. Call 1-833-9-HOPEDE or visit HelpisHereDE.com.

Any residents having problems obtaining insurance approval for treatment or prescriptions related to substance abuse or mental health needs, contact the Delaware Department of Insurance’s Consumer Services Division by emailing consumer@delaware.gov or calling (302) 674-7300.

Event attendees and media representatives must observe social distancing and wear a face covering.

NOTE TO MEDIA: If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Christina.Haas@Delaware.gov.


Medicare Assistance Bureau Innovates to Serve Residents During COVID-19

More ways to receive Medicare counseling and information as Open Enrollment approaches, Bureau earns federal grants to support efforts

When COVID-19 required cancellation of the Department of Insurance Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau series of statewide Welcome to Medicare in-person events, the team responded rapidly, engaging with residents in new ways and offering their free, one-on-one Medicare counseling remotely. The Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau (DMAB) has provided more than 2,930 counseling sessions so far this year, saving beneficiaries more than $192,000 in premiums through application assistance.

“We are all facing new challenges due to COVID-19, and I’m proud that our DMAB team has found ways to communicate with Medicare beneficiaries and made Medicare education and empowerment more accessible despite the inability to offer in-person events,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro.

DMAB will engage in thousands of counseling sessions in the coming months, as Medicare Open Enrollment takes place October 15 through December 7. During this time, beneficiaries can make changes to their health insurance coverage and review existing coverage against other options. DMAB will offer virtual Open Enrollment appointments throughout this period, available via Webex, Duo, and Skype, as well as by phone. Residents are encouraged to register for a MyMedicare.gov account prior to their counseling session so that DMAB can generate personalized plan comparisons.

“Many people have questions about Medicare and don’t know where to start, and COVID-19 has only increased the stress of choosing the right healthcare plans. We are here to help people in Delaware deal with the complex and often confusing health insurance system,” said DMAB Director Lakia Turner, “and, we’re more accessible than ever through our new virtual programs.”

DMAB began to offer virtual Welcome to Medicare seminars in May, engaging 150 residents. The Virtual Medicare Seminar, which is now available on-demand online, educates participants on topics including Medicare benefits, supplemental insurance policies, Medicare Advantage plans, prescription drug coverage and details on signing up.

As Medicare Open Enrollment approaches, the department reminds residents to assess any contact during the open enrollment period to ensure it is from a known, credible source. The most frequent fraudulent contact occurs by phone, but residents should review communications carefully.

“If you are receiving contact regarding Medicare that you did not initiate, or contact not from one of your healthcare providers, it could be fraudulent,” said Commissioner Navarro. “Protect your Medicare Number like you do your Social Security number or bank account information, and never give it out to unknown or unexpected callers.”

DMAB has been awarded two significant grants during 2020. The 2020 State Health Insurance Assistance Program Base Grant provides $234,293 in federal funds to DMAB. This is a five-year grant, with annually awards in April. It is a primary source of funding for marketing and outreach, counseling, developing and training the volunteer network, and other strategic efforts. The MIPPA 2020 Grant awarded the bureau $43,270, which has and will assist the bureau’s outreach, education, and one-on-one beneficiary assistance programs over the next year for those beneficiaries who are likely to be eligible for the Low-Income Subsidy program (also called “Extra Help”) or Medicare Savings Programs.

The Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau provides free one-on-one health insurance counseling for people eligible for Medicare. Residents can call DMAB at 1-(800) 336-9500 or (302) 674-7364 to set up a free confidential session. Counselors can assist with Medicare, Medicaid, Medigap (Medicare supplement insurance), long term care insurance, billing issues, prescription savings, and much more.


$21.5 Million in Health Insurance Rebates for Individuals and Small Businesses

Thousands of Highmark 2019 plan participants and groups to receive checks

After announcing a reduction of Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace rates for the upcoming enrollment year, Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro has more good news for residents who purchase insurance on the Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace, those who purchase Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware plans outside of the exchange in the individual market, and for Highmark small group policyholders, announcing more than $21.5 million in rebates for 2019 participants.

“Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that every resident and small business can afford the health insurance they need for their families and employees. These rebates, combined with the ACA health insurance rate reduction for the coming year, do just that,” said Commissioner Navarro. “This is just one of many ways we are working to reduce the cost-of-care our residents experience in the health care system.

For the first time in the history of Delaware’s individual health insurance market, more than $12.6 million will be returned to 19,273 policyholders, with the average rebate being $656. Highmark small groups, often small businesses, will receive more than $8.8 million in cumulative return. 2,779 groups will receive an average rebate of $3,198, with more than 175 groups receiving rebates over $10,000. Employers can consider using these dollars to enhance benefits, reduce premiums for employees in future policy years or provide refunds directly to group health plan participants.

Communications will be sent to policyholders in September and checks for both individual policyholders and small groups will be sent the week of September 21. Those in the individual market with rebate questions can contact Highmark at 800-544-6679. Small group employers with rebate questions can contact their insurance producer, or Highmark at 800-241-5704.

These rebates are required by the Delaware Department of Insurance according to Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) measurements set by the Affordable Care Act, which are meant to ensure that insurers are spending a majority of premiums on health claims and clinical services, not taking those dollars for profit or administrative expenses. The rebate system creates balance when data shows that this ratio was off in a previous year. Not every policy will receive a rebate. MLR review for the 2020 plan year will shine a light on changes in insurance usage due to COVID-19 and will be released in 2021.

On August 31, Commissioner Navarro announced the Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace would see an average decrease in rates of 1% for individual plans. Highmark small group plans will see an average premium decrease of 3%.


Rates To Decrease In Delaware Affordable Care Act Marketplace

Second consecutive year of reductions in health insurance rates

In a year when the nation’s attention is firmly focused on healthcare and its costs, Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro has announced another reduction in rates on the Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace. Despite insurer costs related to COVID-19 testing and treatment, Commissioner Navarro negotiated an average decrease of 1% in health insurance rates. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware, who offers the state’s Affordable Care Act health plans, initially submitted a reduction of 0.5%. The Commissioner’s final rate announcement comes after an independent actuarial review and public comments on the insurer’s proposal.

“I am proud to announce today the second consecutive rate decrease for Delaware’s Affordable Care Act plans. Amid a global pandemic, it is more important than ever for residents to have access to affordable insurance. Given the difficult economic climate, more people are relying on the Marketplace for the coverage they need,” said Commissioner Navarro. “With this decrease, we send a strong message about the effectiveness of the ACA during its 10th anniversary year. We will continue to fight to ensure access to affordable coverage for all Delawareans.”

In 2019, after successfully applying for a 1332 reinsurance waiver, the state was able to negotiate an average rate decrease of 19% for 2020 plans. This year’s modest reduction reflects market stabilization following the implementation of reinsurance.

After the rate reductions for the 2020 plan year, enrollment spiked by 6.3% during the traditional enrollment period. As of the start of the year, nearly 24,000 Delaware residents participated in marketplace-offered plans. While the federal government has not opened enrollment in response to COVID-19, residents losing employer-sponsored health coverage due to the economic impacts of the pandemic may qualify for special enrollment outside of the traditional enrollment period.

Open enrollment for the Marketplace takes place between November 1 and December 15 each year. However, residents may qualify to enroll or change plans based on special circumstances, such as a loss of qualifying health coverage, change of income, becoming a parent, and several other qualifying factors. Find out if you qualify for special enrollment.

The news of the second consecutive rate decrease comes as the department is implementing other consumer cost-of-care protection efforts, including regulating Pharmacy Benefit Managers to control and reduce medication cost, and continuing efforts to create an Office of Value-Based Healthcare Delivery to focus on primary care affordability and availability.

The proposed rate decrease does not apply to Medicare, Medicaid, or those with group or individual policies outside of the Marketplace.

More information on the rate review process