health insurance

There’s a new trend in Delaware for physicians to charge a straight yearly membership fee to cover certain basic health care like physicals and between two and four office visits.

In essence for a cost of around $75 a month for adult patients skip the normal insurance co-pays and paperwork.

For children under 18 the cost is up to $360 a year.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Dr. Christina Bovelsky in Middletown has opened such a unique practice.

In the first year of the Affordable Care Act Maryland has dramatically slashed the number of children not covered by health insurance.

Maryland News Connection reporter Andrea Sears prepared this report.

Insurance premiums are going up in Delaware.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service have given the okay to double-digit rate hikes.

The Wilmington New Journal reports that the Delaware Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin-Stewart said that individual rates for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield plans would go up by just over of 22 percent and Aetna Life plans by 16 percent.

The paper reports that Highmark had asked previously for hikes of 25.4 percent and 33 percent.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The state of Maryland says 289,131 residents enrolled in health care in the second sign up period.

The state says 122,778 enrolled in private plans. Of those, 87,007 received an advanced premium tax credit. There were 35,771 enrolling in private plans without a subsidy.

There were 166,353 enrolled in Medicaid.

The state says 88 percent of applicants were determined eligible for financial assistance, either through Medicaid or subsidies for private plans. That's up from 80 percent a year ago.

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The latest Delaware revenue projections find that tax-collection estimates dropped more than $45 million.

That’s the word from the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council on Monday.

The governor’s $3.9 billion budget had been based on a higher projection.

The decline will now force the governor and lawmakers to trim state spending or hike revenue to balance the state budget.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Federal officials say nearly 300,000 Virginians have signed up for the health insurance marketplace under the program's second open enrollment.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 298,981 people signed up ahead of the deadline Thursday for coverage starting Feb. 1.

For those who missed the deadline, an open enrollment period will extend until Feb. 15. If that deadline is missed, the earliest coverage for those seeking it would be in 2016.

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Maryland's public health secretary is calling the state's revamped health-insurance exchange a success as the second enrollment period hits a milestone.

Thursday was the deadline for obtaining coverage starting Jan. 1. The enrollment period began Nov. 15 and continues through Feb. 15.

As of Tuesday, 30 days into the process, the exchange had enrolled about 61,000 in private plans. That's nearly five times the number of private-plan enrollments recorded during the first 30 days of the program's troubled launch last year.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's health department says more than 7,300 health insurance enrollments have been completed since the second open enrollment period began.

The department reported that 7,309 enrollments have been completed by 4:45 p.m. Thursday. About 18,615 applications have begun.

The department says there have been 117,000 visitors to the website since enrollment began Saturday at a Glen Burnie sign up fair.

The second round of open enrollment for the Maryland Health Connection is just around the corner.

And the Lower Shore Health Insurance Assistance Program is gearing up to help Eastern Shore residents sign up.

All consumers shopping for health insurance on the exchange – even those who have a qualified health plan through the exchange – must re-enroll between November 15th and December 18th.

CHESWOLD, Del. (AP) - New legislation being signed by Gov. Jack Markell will boost the coffers of Delaware's volunteer ambulance and emergency medical services companies.

One bill to be signed Wednesday establishes a new $10 fee on all motor vehicle violations, with the money going from driver's wallets to volunteer ambulance companies statewide.

Another bill increases the share of the gross premium tax on health insurance companies that is distributed to volunteer fire companies from 0.15 percent to 0.21 percent.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - State officials says some 300 Delawareans remain at risk of losing insurance coverage under the federal health care reform law because they have yet to submit documentation verifying their eligibility.

Federal officials sent out notices last month to more than 300,000 people nationwide, including about 700 in Delaware, with inconsistencies in their citizenship or immigration data. Officials say about 55 percent of those Delaware cases have since been resolved.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - More federal dollars are headed to Virginia to help consumers navigate the thicket of the federal health insurance marketplace.

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced $1.9 million in grants for Virginia. They are going to the Virginia Poverty Law Center and Advanced Patient Advocacy LLC, both located in the Richmond area.

The law center and Advanced Patient each operated navigation sites around the state last year during the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delawareans could face higher insurance costs under the Affordable Care Act next year under new rate requests from insurers.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is seeking average premium increases of 5 percent for individuals who bought insurance through Delaware's exchange. Exact premium changes will depend on factors including which plan is selected. Highmark says its premium increase reflects an aging population, prevalence of chronic illnesses and higher costs for new medicines and procedures.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Republican lawmakers in several states including Delaware continue to push for tighter oversight of workers who help people apply for health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act, even though there's no sign yet that enrollment assistants have misused consumers' personal information.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The foundation that owns the Alfred I. du Pont Hospital for Children in Delaware and various pediatric physician practices in the region is suing United Healthcare entities in three states for unpaid bills.

Lawyers for the Nemours Foundation filed lawsuits in federal court in Delaware on Wednesday against United Healthcare of Pennsylvania, United Healthcare of the Mid-Atlantic, and United Healthcare Community Plan of New Jersey.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials are set to provide an update on enrollment in the state's new health insurance exchange.

Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf planned to update the Delaware Health Care Commission on Thursday on the state's implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Officials also planned to provide an update on the marketing campaign aimed at encouraging people to enroll in the exchange before the March 31 deadline.

Officials last month said 1,145 people had enrolled in the exchange and paid their first premiums.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A final vote is near on a measure to help people who could not enroll in a private health plan on Maryland's health exchange website due to computer problems last year.

The Senate, which already approved a version of the bill, could take up final passage as soon as Wednesday on the bill that has some changes made by the House of Delegates.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Senate has advanced a measure to provide insurance for people who were unable to enroll in the state's health exchange website due to computer problems.

The Senate voted 36-8 late Monday to adopt a favorable report on the measure. That sets the stage for a vote Tuesday to send the bill to the House.

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Governor Martin O’Malley says the administration will stay with its own troubled health insurance exchange in the run up to the March 31st deadline for open enrollment instead moving to the federal website.

Maryland state officials also say they will be reaching out to customers in an agreement with insurers to provide retroactive coverage for those who were not successful in signing up on the state exchange.

BALTIMORE (AP) - State health officials have approved 13 carriers to sell health benefit plans to small businesses through the new exchange.

The Maryland Insurance Administration also approved premium rates on Tuesday for the plans to be sold through Maryland's Small Business Health Options Program Exchange.

Officials say the premium rates approved for 2014 range from 4.9 percent lower to 14.6 percent higher than existing rates for the carriers' small business products.

BALTIMORE (WBOC/AP)- Attorney General Doug Gansler is urging Maryland insurance regulators to freeze any health insurance rate increases above 5 percent.

Gansler made the request to the Maryland Insurance Administration on Tuesday.

Gansler said that some insurance executives are threatening rate hikes of 25 percent, reaching 100 to 150 percent for some consumers, and Maryland families can't afford that.

The attorney general also is asking for public reviews of any such requests after six months.

The Sussex County Government could be hit with a $245-thousand federal excise tax on its family health insurance plans beginning in 2018 unless it cuts its insurance costs.

The County Council said it learned about the issue when briefed on the impact of the Affordable Care Act.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that   county accounting director Gina Jennings said because the total premiums paid for their plan are expected to go above $27,500 per family by 2018 the federal government will impose an additional tax on those plans.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A new law in Delaware requires that individual health insurance plans provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

Legislation being signed by Gov. Jack Markell on Monday requires coverage and treatment of autism spectrum disorders in individuals under 21 years old.

The law also prohibits insurers from terminating or refusing to renew coverage to an individual solely because the individual or a family member is diagnosed with one of the autism spectrum disorders or has received treatment for autism spectrum disorders.