FILE: Health care osts

(The Center Square) — Delaware’s health care insurance carriers are largely projected to meet the state's affordability standards this year, according to a new report.

The report by the state Department of Insurance, released on Tuesday, said carriers are projected to increase their investment in primary care spending to 7% of their total medical spending, or $40 million, and hit the mandated 8.5% of total expenditure on primary care. That's still an $8 million increase from 2022 spending, the report noted.

Insurance carriers are expected to meet the state's affordability standards in each of the three required service categories – inpatient hospital, outpatient hospital, and other medical, according to the report, which says per member, per month spending on certain kinds of care has increased from $11 in 2022 and $29 this year. 

Overall, the limits will save Delawareans $2 million to $12 million in 2023, "depending on the price increases hospitals would have otherwise negotiated with carriers," the report's authors wrote.

Insurance Commissioner Navarro said the report's data shows that health plans overall will be able to meet the state's standards, but the report "makes clear to me that we can keep making progress toward higher-quality care at a lower cost."

“Helping to bend the health care curve towards more affordable care is critically important in these times of ever-increasing hospital and medication prices," he said. 

Cristine Vogel, director of the department’s Office of Value-Based Health Care Delivery, said while Delaware is making progress in addressing health care quality and cost, "there is room for progress." She noted that the state agency is only authorized to regulate a "small portion" of the health insurance industry.

"We regulate the fully-insured segment, which comprises only 10% of the total health insurance market and is therefore too small to drive change alone," Vogel said. 

The state's latest health care trends report showed a mixed bag of sorts for Delaware consumers struggling to keep up with ever-rising health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatment.

Delaware's health care costs averaged about $9,088 per resident in 2021, representing an 11.2% year-over-year increase. That's also substantially higher than the 3.25% growth benchmark set by the Carney administration.