Open Enrollment Continues through January 31 for Delaware’s Health Insurance Marketplace

DOVER, DE Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart reminds consumers that the open enrollment period for health insurance plans offered in 2017 through Delaware’s Health Insurance Marketplace ends on January 31, 2017. If you want coverage to begin on January 1, you need to enroll in a plan by December 15.  Delaware residents who are looking for personal assistance with selecting a plan should visit www.choosehealthde.com to connect with health navigators who provide free support. Consumers can select or change plans on their own at www.healthcare.gov.

According to Healthcare.gov, if you had Marketplace health insurance in 2016, you can renew, change, or update your plan for 2017 through January 31, 2017: “Whether you intend to renew or change plans, you must update income and household information on your 2017 application to get the right amount of financial assistance. Your savings depend on your expected household income for the year. Over 8 in 10 people who apply are eligible to save, and most can find plans for between $50 and $100 per month (after accounting for their premium tax credit).”

There are always changes in costs, networks and other details of insurance plans from year to year. Don’t assume that just because a plan worked well for you in 2016 that it will also be the best, or most cost-effective plan, for 2017. All health insurance plans offered through the Marketplace cover the ten Essential Health Benefits, pre-existing conditions and preventive care services.

If you were enrolled in a Marketplace plan in 2016, the federal government reports that “by November 1, 2016, you should receive two letters: one from your current insurance company and one from the Marketplace. Together they explain: any changes in your coverage and financial help; and if you need to send the Marketplace any documents.”  In addition, some plans are being discontinued for plan year 2017.  It’s important that consumers who were enrolled in those plans choose a new plan for next year. If you don’t choose a new plan, you may be automatically enrolled, or “crosswalked,” into a similar plan. Once you’ve enrolled in a plan, check your mail for information from your insurance company. When a welcome packet arrives, be sure to read the information thoroughly and save everything in a secure place. It is very important that you pay your premium on time. If you fail to pay your monthly premiums, your insurance company can cancel your policy. If your policy is cancelled due to non-payment you will likely not qualify for any other coverage until January 1, 2018.

If you don’t have health insurance coverage in 2017 you will have to pay a federal fee at tax time.

After January 31, 2017, you won’t be eligible to enroll in a health insurance plan through the Marketplace for the rest of 2017 unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.

Ready to enroll? Consumers can find more details about the various plans and their related premiums and deductibles, as well as any potential premium subsidies they may be eligible for, at www.healthcare.gov.

Small businesses can apply for coverage for their employees any time, all year.

###


The Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment Period Has Passed, But You May Qualify for a Special Enrollment Period

Important Deadline Approaching April 30; Beware of Scams

Dover, DE The open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace, www.healthcare.gov, ended on February 15; however, some people may qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP) going on right now. If you owe a fee with your taxes for not having qualifying health coverage in 2014, and you don’t yet have health insurance for 2015, you may still be able to get coverage for this year. Time to apply is limited; this special enrollment period ends on April 30.

“If you don’t have health insurance in 2015 you’ll risk having to pay the fee again next year,” said Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart. The fee for people who don’t have coverage increases in 2015 to $325 per person or 2% of your household income – whichever is higher. Eighty percent of people who apply for financial assistance received some level of support to help pay for monthly premiums.

If you owe the fee for not having qualifying coverage in 2014, you may still be eligible to enroll in 2015 coverage if all of these apply:

  • You didn’t know until after open enrollment ended on February 15, 2015 that the health care law required you and your household to have health coverage, or you didn’t understand how the requirement would impact you and your household;
  • You owe the fee for not having coverage in 2014; and
  • You aren’t already enrolled in 2015 coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace or outside the Marketplace.

Healthcare.gov states that, “You don’t need to have filed your 2014 taxes before enrolling with this SEP—you just have to owe the fee.” The website further states, “If any person in a household meets the criteria for this SEP, everyone in the household can enroll with it.” Please note: Even if you get 2015 coverage through the SEP, you still owe the fee for 2014.

Other special enrollment periods are available throughout the year if you experience certain life changes, such as having a baby, getting married, or losing your existing health coverage. To see if you qualify, please visit www.choosehealthde.com or www.healthcare.gov.

Small businesses can apply for Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) coverage for their employees any time, all year long.

Fraud, scams and harassment: If you try to obtain a health insurance policy outside of the open enrollment period which complies with the Affordable Care Act, you will probably find very few options. Nevertheless, within the past week the Department of Insurance’s Consumer Services division has received several complaints about harassing phone calls from callers trying to sell limited benefit plans to consumers, sometimes insinuating that the callers’ plans qualify as full health insurance coverage. It most likely does not comply.

There have also been recent reports of scammers calling and impersonating IRS agents, telling people that they need to pay fines or enroll in a plan immediately. Remember, the IRS does not generally conduct business via telephone and you should never give out personal information to anyone if you are suspicious of the call or feel pressured to “act immediately”. Never provide your social security number or credit card number to anyone who demands it.

If you are contacted by an agent who is selling a legitimate insurance product, he or she is required by law to provide you with the name of the insurance company that the agent is representing, and the agent’s ID number. If you request that information, and the alleged agent will not provide it, then the call is almost certainly a scam. Before you purchase any benefit plan or insurance policy, you are encouraged to call the Delaware DOI Consumer Services division at 1-800-282-8611 to verify that the agent is licensed to sell insurance policies in Delaware. For more information about health insurance topics please visit www.delawareinsurance.gov.

###

Contact:  Jerry Grant

(302) 674-7303

 


Commissioner Stewart Provides Insurance Related Tips for Holidays

DOVER, DE – The Holidays are quickly approaching and most people have already begun shopping, decorating or planning a trip to see family or friends over the coming weeks. Take some time today to review your insurance coverage and to ensure that you, your family, and your home are prepared for the colder weather and other perils that occur more frequently during this time of the year.

 

Holiday gatherings for most people include indulging in great food and drinks. With all of that extra cooking and baking going on there’s just more potential for a fire. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average home fire claim costs $34,306. A claim after a fire would likely be lower for renters, since they are only insuring the contents of their rented home or apartment, but many renters do not realize that their belongings are likely not covered by their landlord’s insurance.

 

While the kitchen remains the number one place where fires start in the home, holiday decorations and space heaters greatly increase the chances for fires if you aren’t careful. Never leave candles or space heaters unattended and keep them away from flammable objects. If you have a live Christmas tree, be sure to water it often. Get rid of old strings of lights that get hot and could cause a fire. According to statistics from Allstate Insurance, the median cost for a home fire caused by a Christmas tree is more than $100,000! Christmas trees burn hot and fast, so a tiny spark can become a huge fire in mere minutes. When plugging in lights and decorations outside, do not overload outlets or use substandard extension cords.

 

Allstate Insurance found that theft claims went up by 7 percent during the holidays, which makes sense since our houses and cars are often filled with expensive gifts. When shopping, keep gifts in your car out of sight and, when possible, schedule package deliveries for times when you will be home. Some people send deliveries to their workplace so they can sign for, and accept, deliveries during the work day.

 

Be sure to notify your insurance company if you buy high-value items, like jewelry, art or electronics. There are usually limits on how much the policy will pay for specific categories of items. If an item is worth a lot of money you should ask your agent about scheduling an endorsement (also referred to as a “rider”) to better protect your investment should an item be stolen or damaged in a fire, etc.

 

In today’s world of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, remember that it’s not always a good idea to overshare the details of when your family will be away visiting Grandma. Don’t make it easy on thieves to come steal presents bought with your hard-earned money.

 

If you’re hosting a party, remember to serve alcohol responsibly and do not let intoxicated friends or family drive home. When the weather brings snow and ice be sure to clear sidewalks and put down salt or de-icer, if necessary. Homeowners and renters insurance policies both provide liability coverage if someone is injured on your property, but know the limits of your policy.

 

Don’t forget that it’s also open enrollment time for health insurance plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace (Healthcare.gov). All plans purchased through the Marketplace will expire on December 31, 2014, no matter when your coverage began in 2014. If you would like to re-enroll, change plans or sign up for health insurance for the first time you can do so until February 15, 2015. However, anyone who wants a plan to be effective starting on January 1, 2015, needs to sign up or re-enroll by December 15, 2014. For more information about your health insurance options visit www.choosehealthde.com or www.healthcare.gov.

 

If you have health insurance through your employer your open enrollment period may be going on now, or may begin soon. Pay close attention to the deadlines and be sure to give yourself plenty of time to review your options. There’s much more to consider than the monthly premium alone. Make sure you review the deductible; sometimes paying a little more in premiums will make for a much lower deductible.

 

If you are traveling, be sure to take your health insurance information with you. Always keep a record of your medications, and if you’re flying, it’s usually safer to keep medicine in your carry-on since luggage can sometimes be lost for days—if not forever. Remember, if you need to seek medical care and you’re out-of-network you will likely be subject to higher co-pays and/or deductibles. If you need medical care for a non-emergency issue find a local urgent care clinic or medical aid unit, which will typically be cheaper than an ER visit.

 

For more information about insurance visit www.delawareinsurance.gov

 

###

For more information: Jerry Grant 302-674-7303


It’s Time to Think about Your Health Insurance Coverage

It’s Time to Think about Your Health Coverage

Whether you’re covered under Medicare, or don’t have any health insurance at all,
the time to review your health coverage is fast approaching

 

DOVER, DE–If you are unhappy with your health insurance coverage, or don’t have any at all,Delaware Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart wants to alert you to two important sets of dates coming up soon.

October 15 through December 7 is the time for Medicare Open Enrollment.  It’s the time when all people with Medicare are encouraged to review their current health and prescription drug coverage, including any changes in costs, coverage, and benefits that will take effect next year.

Call the Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau, DMAB, at 1-800-336-9500 for help with all of your questions related to Medicare and Medicare prescription drug plans, such as Part D. You can also get information on DMAB’s website, www.delawareinsurance.gov/DMAB. Staff and trained volunteers are available to meet with Medicare recipients at various locations throughout each county to review your current prescriptions and options in-person.

If you want to change your Medicare coverage for next year, this is the time to do it. If you’re satisfied that your current coverage will continue to meet your needs for next year, you don’t need to do anything. Staff members are also able to help with questions about Medicare Advantage plans.

If you are not on Medicare and need health insurance, November 15 through February 15 is the open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace at www.HealthCare.gov.  If you need to enroll in a plan, or review your current plan and options, visit www.ChooseHealthDE.com to get connected to free, local help from a trained Marketplace Guide. Help is also available by phone at 1-800-318-2596 (this number connects to a national call center).

Many individuals and their families will qualify for federal subsidies to help lower health insurance premiums. Talk to a Marketplace Guide or set up an account on Healthcare.gov to get more information about plans and coverage available, as well as costs and subsidies.

###

Know Your Open Enrollment Dates 2014

Delaware Department of Insurance: “Protecting Delawareans through regulation and
education while providing oversight of the insurance industry to best serve the public.”