Delaware panel eyes health care reform plan

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delawareans will soon be bombarded with information about a new health insurance exchange being set up under the federal health care reform law.

Public relations consultants for the Delaware’s Health Care Commission on Wednesday announced a mass media campaign to educate the public about the exchange. It will include advertisements on radio, on network and cable television and in newspapers.

Officials also plan to use social media to spread the word about the health care reform effort in Delaware.

Consultants will use posters, billboards and even bar coasters to deliver the message, with target audiences divided between those who are 29 and younger and those 30 and older.

State officials expect to enroll about 35,000 people in the health insurance exchange starting in October, for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014.

In the meantime, organizations working with the health care commission are screening and hiring “marketplace guides” to help people learn about and enroll in the exchange.

“There’s lots of activity planned in the coming weeks in advance of open enrollment,” said commission chairwoman Bettina Riveros.

State officials have contracted with four community organizations to provide guidance to Delawareans about the new health insurance marketplace.

Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care Inc. of Easton, Md., will receive $1.7 million and Brandywine Women’s Health Associates of Wilmington was awarded $1.4 million to provide marketplace assisters. Westside Family Healthcare of Wilmington and Christiana Care Health Services of Newark will receive more than $1.3 million and $555,000, respectively, for consumer assistance services related to the exchange.

The marketplace assisters will be paid with a $4 million grant from the federal government.

They will be complemented by “navigators” who will provide similar education and enrollment services under direct federal contracts. Officials expect to announce which organizations have been selected to provide navigators on Aug. 15.

The marketplace assisters and navigators will be assisted by “certified application counselors,” who will assist people in enrolling in the exchange. Organizations eligible to provide those counselors include health centers, hospitals, and nonprofit social service agencies.

Officials currently are awaiting certification by the federal government of proposed health insurance plans submitted by insurers who submitted applications for qualified health plans.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware, Coventry Health and Life Insurance Co., and Coventry Health Care of Delaware submitted medical plans for certification. Stand-alone dental plan applications were submitted by Delta Dental of Delaware, Dentegra Insurance Co., Dominion Insurance and Guardian Insurance.

Linda Nemes of the Department of Insurance said all plans submitted to state officials were recommended for federal certification, and that officials expect to announce the certification decisions in September.

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