Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau Can Help You Choose Drug Plans

Medicare Part D Open Enrollment Ends December 7

Dover, DE – Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart reminds Delawareans that Medicare’s annual open enrollment period continues until December 7. If you’re a Medicare recipient, now is the time to review the options for 2017 Part D prescription drug plans. Medicare recipients can also switch their Medicare Advantage plans during the open enrollment period, or they can return to Original Medicare if they are no longer satisfied with their Medicare Advantage plan. Plans change each year, so even if a plan worked well for an individual in 2016, it doesn’t mean that it will be the most cost-effective plan for 2017. Luckily, the Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau (DMAB) exists to assist Delaware’s Medicare recipients with their questions related to Medicare, Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), only about 10 percent of Medicare recipients switch Medicare Advantage plans each year and approximately 13 percent change their Part D plans. The KFF found that the average Medicare Advantage enrollee saved $190 annually on their premiums and lowered their out-of-pocket expenses by about $400 when they switched plans during the 2014 open enrollment period, the most recent data available.

Just as with any insurance policy, consumers should consider more than premiums alone when making a decision about a drug plan or Medicare Advantage policy. It may be short sighted to select a plan based on the lowest premium alone; it’s especially important to consider the plan’s deductible, co-pays and co-insurance. By now, Medicare recipients with a Part D plan should have received an Annual Notice of Change from their insurer. This document will list upcoming changes to your existing coverage, such as the cost of premiums and co-pays, and show a comparison of the plan between this year and next.

It is common for Medicare Part D plans to change their formularies and the rules under which they are covered from year to year. A formulary is the list of medications that a plan covers. For example, a plan might decide to limit the quantity of a medication or require a prior authorization before they will cover the drug. That likely means additional steps and paperwork are required before you can get a medication that your physician ordered. Changes in plans may require you try a less expensive alternative to the drug prescribed by your doctor. The plan might also drop coverage of a medication altogether; that’s why reviewing your options each year is so important.

Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, which should be checked in the same way that you would review a stand-alone drug plan. Medicare Advantage plans also can make changes to the list of healthcare providers considered in-network at any time of the year. The annual enrollment period provides the opportunity for enrollees to review the list of included providers, to make sure they will continue to meet your needs.

DMAB’s staff and trained volunteers are available to meet with Medicare recipients at various locations throughout each county to review residents’ current prescriptions and options in-person. Please call 1-800-336-9500 to make an appointment to review your drug plan options; don’t wait until the final week to call. If you have an appointment for a drug plan review be sure to bring a complete list of the medications (and all of the specific details about the drugs, such as dosage and how often you take them)

If you’re satisfied that your current coverage will continue to meet your needs for next year, you don’t need to do anything. For more information about the Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau and the services it provides, visit or call 1-800-336-9500. DMAB is a free public service of the Delaware Department of Insurance that provides unbiased Medicare counseling to Medicare recipients of all ages.

DMAB is Delaware’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Community Living.


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

Commissioner Stewart Offers Tax Solution for Captive Insurers

DOVER, DE — Delaware Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart has issued a bulletin which provides guidance to make it easier for captive insurers to comply with the new requirements within the federal Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act.  Captive Insurance Bulletin No. 6 establishes procedures so that owners of captive insurance companies may satisfy the PATH Act’s new mandates for owning captives.

For tax years after December 31, 2016, the PATH Act will increase the annual premium to $2.2 million that an insurer making the Internal Revenue Code section 831(b) election may receive.  The PATH Act also creates two new provisions affecting these insurers.  The first is how much premium an insurer may derive from a single person and the second is new ownership requirements for these insurers.  Bulletin No. 6 establishes two cost efficient procedures that captive insurance company owners may follow that either change the ownership of an existing captive, or allow for the creation of a new captive.

“I am very proud that my captive insurance staff has established guidance that responds to a change in federal tax laws,” said Stewart. “Delaware’s captive insurance program is known throughout the world as an advocate for the captive insurance industry.  Bulletin No. 6 once again affirms Delaware’s position by offering a timely and efficient regulatory option for captive insurance companies.”

The full text of Captive Insurance Bulletin No. 6 can be found at


Workers’ Compensation Rates Unchanged for 2017

DOVER, DE – Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart today approved the Delaware Compensation Rating Bureau (DCRB)’s workers’ compensation amended rate filing, which recommends no changes in the overall levels of residual market rates and voluntary market loss costs for 2017.

“I hope this is the beginning of a period of rate stabilization in the workers compensation market,” said Commissioner Stewart. “I want to thank my staff, the Ratepayer Advocate and the DCRB for their hard work to keep the rates at their current overall level. I also want to recognize the General Assembly and my fellow members of the Governor’s Workers Compensation Oversight Panel and the Workers’ Compensation Task Force, whose efforts over the past few years are now bearing fruit.”

The Commissioner’s independent actuaries and the state’s Ratepayer Advocate examined the DCRB’s original filing and agreed on the amended rates approved by the Commissioner.

The DCRB’s amended filing No. 1603 may be found at

For more information contact Jerry Grant at 302-674-7303 or


Delaware Insurance Department Releases 2017 Health Insurance Rates for ACA Marketplace Plans

DOVER, DE – Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart today released Delaware’s Qualified Health Plan average rates for Plan Year 2017.

The Commissioner recommended approval of a 32.5 % average rate increase in the individual market for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware. The approved average rate increase for the small group market for Highmark’s plans is 2.74%.

Aetna Life Insurance Company received an average of 22.8 % increase in the individual market and Aetna Health Insurance Company received an average increase of 23.6 %. In the small group market, Aetna Life received an average increase of 15.2 % and Aetna Health received an average increase of 19.7 %.

The Commissioner, after a thorough actuarial review of rate requests submitted by the insurers’ in June, submitted her approved rates to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in August. CMS subsequently conducted a final review of the Aetna Health and Aetna Life requests and concurred with the Commissioner’s recommendations.

The Aetna Health rate reflects a 1.4% reduction of the insurer’s individual rate request made in June, and Aetna Life’s rate is a 1.1% reduction of its June request. In the small group market, Aetna Health’s rate reflects a 3.5% reduction of the original request, and Aetna Life’s rate is 3.4% less than requested.

The Commissioner originally reduced rates requested by Highmark BCBSD and submitted them to CMS. However, CMS urged Delaware and neighboring states to reconsider their submissions and accept Highmark’s original rates as filed. Several BCBS entities have left, threatened to leave, or reduced coverage in other states’ marketplaces for 2017. Aetna recently announced they are leaving the ACA exchanges in eleven different states, but will remain in Delaware for 2017. Given this fluid environment, and to maintain a stable and competitive marketplace in Delaware, the Commissioner and her actuaries agreed with CMS’s analysis and approved the original rates requested by Highmark.

The approved rates are average rates; some consumers may pay more, some less. Under Delaware law, the Commissioner evaluates the reasonableness of rates to ensure they are not excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory.

As always, in all lines of insurance, the Department recommends consumers shop around for their insurance needs. Costs can vary substantially between insurers. For the Marketplace plans, please use only the official sites, and

The Department of Insurance held public information sessions in each county in June to receive comment on the proposed rate increases. Written comments can be found at . All 2017 rates with justifications, along with information regarding non-marketplace health plans and on- and off-marketplace dental plans, may be found on the Department’s Rate Filings page:


Commissioner Stewart Provides Storm Preparedness Tips

Paths of Hurricanes are Hard to Predict: Prepare Now for Severe Weather

Dover, DE – Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart is encouraging Delaware residents to take action now to prepare for potential damages and interruptions from Hurricane Matthew. Although it is too early to predict the long-term track of the storm, residents are encouraged to review or develop an emergency plan, create or update a home inventory, and take action to make their homes as safe as possible to prevent any damage from occurring. The Atlantic Hurricane season officially ends on November 30. Even if this current storm bypasses our region there’s still plenty of time for other strong storms to form which could eventually threaten Delaware.

The Department of Insurance has a Storm Preparedness webpage filled with resources and information about what to do before, during and after a major storm.  There’s an abundance of information about protecting your home or business from damage, and tips for preparing for meeting with an adjuster if your property sustains damages. Visit the Storm Preparedness webpage here:

Now is an ideal time to update your personal property inventory for your home, or create one if you’ve never done it before. With today’s technology this process is easier than ever with the help of the free app for your smartphone called MyHome, created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The Department of Insurance also has a home inventory PDF that can be printed. For links to all of these resources visit the Storm Preparedness webpage. Having an up-to-date home inventory will help make the insurance claims process much easier should your home be damaged by a natural disaster.

Below is a brief list of items the Delaware Department of Insurance suggests that you review now, before a disaster strikes. For a complete list of items, visit the Storm Preparedness webpage, mentioned above in this article.

  • Make sure that you understand the deductible provision of your policy.
  • Keep all of your insurance policies in an easily accessible location.
  • If forced to evacuate, keep your insurance records with you at all times, including the name and telephone number of your insurer or insurance agent.
  • Be certain you understand the claim procedures of your insurance company.
  • Make sure you have insurance up to at least 80% of the value on your home to avoid penalties under any co-insurance provision of your policy.
  • Keep all necessary information regarding your health coverage, including prescription information, with your insurance records in the event of an evacuation.

For the best protection take pictures of your important documents with your smartphone, or scan these important documents and save them in your personal e-mail or online storage account. That way, if documents are lost in a disaster you can still access them from anywhere. Be prepared, you’ll thank yourself later!

The Delaware Department of Insurance also recommends that residents have evacuation plans and prepare an emergency supply kit. It is recommended that a supply kit should contain: plenty of bottled water, a first aid kit, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, non-perishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies, and cash or traveler’s checks. Additionally, if you need to evacuate your home, turn off all utilities to reduce the chance of additional damage and electrical shock when utilities are restored. For more information on building an emergency kit and preparing an evacuation plan, visit You can also learn more about preparing for hurricanes, specifically, at

The Department of Insurance encourages residents to monitor the storm in the coming days. If the storm tracks toward Delaware, consider taking the following precautions at your home:

  • Clear your gutters of leaves and trim branches that are hanging over your roof.
  • Close and lock all doors and windows to prevent them from blowing open and allowing rain in.
  • Move any items from your yard that could become projectiles and cause damage such as potted plants, grills, toys, garbage cans, lawn furniture, etc.

A note about flood insurance: Your traditional homeowners insurance will not cover your losses due to flooding and storm surges. Only flood insurance will protect your home and property from damage due to flood waters. There is typically a 30-day waiting period from the time your purchase the policy until it goes in to effect. To learn about your home’s specific risk for flooding as determined by FEMA flood maps visit