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Open Enrollment for the Individual Health Insurance Market Begins Today

NH Insurance Department Offers Guidance for Consumers

Concord, NH – Open enrollment for the individual health insurance market begins November 1st.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department offers guidance for the 53,000 Granite Staters who will be selecting or renewing a health plan through HealthCare.gov, through an agent, or directly from an insurance company. (Another 43,000 residents will get insurance through the state’s Premium Assistance Program, using the state’s NHEasy.nh.gov portal.)

“As open enrollment begins, people should research their options to determine the best plan for themselves and their families,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “If you don’t shop around, you may end up paying more for coverage than you need to or end up with a plan that does not include your doctors or prescription drugs. Free help is available from agents and Navigators.”

1.      The Enrollment Window Is Shorter:

Open enrollment is the only time to apply for individual health insurance for the upcoming year, unless you experience a qualifying life event, such as losing coverage from a job, getting married, or having a baby. This year, open enrollment begins on November 1 and ends December 15 (in previous years, consumers had through the end of January to select a plan). To ensure coverage begins on January 1, you must pay your first premium by the insurance company’s deadline, which in most cases is December 31.

2.      Some People Will See Steep Rate Increases:

The roughly 29,000 New Hampshire residents who receive federal subsidies through HealthCare.gov likely won’t experience much change in what they pay in monthly premiums. However, the 24,000 residents who don’t qualify for a federal subsidy or who buy a plan outside HealthCare.gov will see an average increase of 52 percent. If you have a policy now, you will get a renewal letter from your insurance company – but the letter’s estimate of what you will pay in monthly premium might be not accurate if you receive a subsidy. This is because precise subsidy information was not available at the time these letters were prepared. Use the plan preview tool on HealthCare.gov to estimate what your subsidy, and your premium, might be. More information on rates can be found on the Insurance Department website.

3.      Everyone Should Shop Around:

Even if you like your 2017 plan, you should shop and compare your options for 2018. The HealthCare.gov 2018 plan preview tool is available and consumers can start researching now. The options available are changing for 2018, meaning some 2017 plans may not be available. Plans may also change their networks and prescription drug coverage from year to year. If you don’t do anything, HealthCare.gov will automatically enroll you in a plan that is considered “similar” to your current plan; but that plan may not have a similar premium, and your doctors and prescription drugs may not be in network.

4.      Free Help Is Available:

Insurance agents and brokers can help you enroll in a plan on HealthCare.gov or directly from an insurance company – they can help you review your options and recommend which plan might be best for you. Federal Navigators and Certified Application Counselors can help you apply and enroll in health insurance on HealthCare.gov only, and while they can educate you about health insurance and your options, they aren’t allowed to recommend a specific plan. Find local help on HealthCare.gov or the Insurance Department website.

5.      You May Have to Pay Unpaid 2017 Premiums:

Beginning with 2018 open enrollment, insurance companies may be permitted to collect unpaid 2017 premiums before providing coverage in 2018. If you believe you are being charged past-due premium amounts in error, please contact the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services unit by phone at 1-800-852-3416 or email consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.

6.      Some Plans/Networks Are Not Available in 2018:

All Minuteman Health plans on the individual exchange will terminate on December 31, 2017. If you are currently enrolled in a Minuteman Health plan and don’t enroll in a new plan by December 15, HealthCare.gov will auto-enroll you into a 2018 plan considered comparable to your Minuteman plan. New Hampshire Health Protection Program members with Minuteman Health coverage will receive information from the NH Department of Health and Human Services about moving to a new plan.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care will not offer its New Hampshire Network plans on HealthCare.gov for 2018, but it will offer its ElevateHealth Network. If you have the Harvard Pilgrim New Hampshire Network, review your provider needs and select a plan accordingly.

7.      The Individual Mandate Is Still in Effect:

The individual mandate requires all Americans to have Minimum Essential Coverage for the year or qualify for an exemption. For more information on individual mandate fine amounts, check here.

8.      Low-Income Residents Can Enroll in the NH Health Protection Program:

Low-income NH residents may be eligible for low- or no-cost health coverage through the NHHPP. If you are already enrolled in the NHHPP, you will receive information from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services about how to pick a plan for 2018.

If you do not have NHHPP coverage but think you may be eligible, you can call the Medicaid Service Center at 1-888-901-4999 Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. You can also apply online at NH Easy from 6 a.m.-midnight, seven days a week; visit a DHHS district office or download an application; or visit your local ServiceLink center for help with the application. If you apply for a plan on HealthCare.gov, you may be referred to the NHHPP if you appear to qualify for the program based on income.

The NH Insurance Department Can Help:

For more information from the NH Insurance Department on open enrollment, visit our website. If you have questions about or issues with using the Marketplace and obtaining coverage, please call the federal government at (800) 318-2596. Once you have coverage, please contact the Insurance Department with questions or concerns at 1-800-852-3416 or (603) 271-2261, or by email at consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.

NH Insurance Commissioner: Some Residents Will See Steep Rate Increases in 2018

24,000 Granite Staters who don’t receive federal subsidy through HealthCare.gov will be affected

CONCORD, NH — As open enrollment for individual health insurance plans approaches, the New Hampshire Insurance Department cautions residents that some will experience steep rate increases for 2018. The Department offers resources to help people understand their options and select the best plan for their budget and health care needs.

“It’s important to note that not everyone who buys an individual health insurance plan will be affected: The roughly 29,000 New Hampshire residents who receive federal subsidies through HealthCare.gov likely won’t experience much change in what they actually pay in monthly premiums,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny.“However, the 24,000 residents who don’t qualify for a federal subsidy or who buy a plan outside HealthCare.gov will see an average increase of 52 percent. We realize what a difficult situation those people will face and want to make sure they have all the information and resources available in order to help them make decisions.”

People who currently have a policy will receive a renewal letter from their insurance company. To find a more accurate estimate of what they will pay in monthly premium, consumers should use the plan preview tool on HealthCare.gov. Residents can enter basic information about their household, and the tool will provide premium estimates and 2018 plan information. Consumers will need to return to the website during the open enrollment period to enroll in a plan. The Insurance Department advises all policyholders to shop around for 2018 – even those who like their current plan. There may be a 2018 plan that is a better fit, in terms of cost or benefits.

Those who purchase insurance through HealthCare.gov should update their applications on the site when open enrollment begins on November 1 and update their 2018 “tax household” and estimated income. If people meet the income qualifications for the state’s expanded Medicaid, or Premium Assistance Program, they will be directed to apply for a health insurance plan through the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. If people qualify for Advance Premium Tax Credits through HealthCare.gov, they are not likely to see large increases in their premium cost — what they pay in 2018 is likely to remain similar to what they are paying this year.

People will be notified if they are qualified to receive Cost Sharing Reduction assistance after submitting their application on HealthCare.gov. CSRs reduce out-of-pocket expenses on silver “metal-level” plans only. Although the federal government recently announced that it would end cost-sharing reduction payments to companies operating on HealthCare.gov, companies will continue to provide this benefit to consumers, at least through the end of 2018.

If consumers do not qualify for federal financial assistance, they should consider looking at individual plans both on HealthCare.gov and sold directly through an insurance company or through an agent or broker to find the most affordable option. The Insurance Department website features links to insurance agents who can assist people:  https://www.nh.gov/insurance/consumers/mp_plans.htm, and HealthCare.gov offers a similar feature:  https://localhelp.healthcare.gov.

Health Savings Accounts are available for “high deductible health plans” to help consumers set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. Consumers can learn more about HSAs by talking to an insurance agent or broker.

People who do not qualify for APTCs and who are unable to afford premiums may qualify for an exemption from the tax penalty if the lowest-cost bronze plan available on HealthCare.gov is more than 8.16% of their household income. This would not provide the consumer with coverage, but it would allow for an exemption from the individual mandate fine.

“Rates in 2018 saw such a dramatic increase because of rising medical and pharmaceutical costs, instability in Washington, and the federal government’s decision to eliminate key funding to insurance companies,” said Commissioner Sevigny. “My staff and I saw the potential for this scenario and worked with insurance companies, Governor Sununu, and the New Hampshire Legislature to explore options for addressing it. Unfortunately, none of those options were viable for the coming year. We continue to work to address high rates in 2019 and to keep this market viable so that it serves the needs of consumers.”

To compare 2018 individual plans available through HealthCare.gov: https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/ or https://www.nh.gov/insurance/lah/documents/nhid_plan_compare_2018.pdf

To see which NH hospitals are available through which networks in 2018: https://www.nh.gov/insurance/lah/documents/py2018_nh_ hospnw.pdf

More information for New Hampshire residents about open enrollment may be found on the Insurance Department’s website: https://www.nh.gov/insurance/media/pr/2017/documents/10-18-17-nhid-2018-open-enrollment-information-1.pdf

About The New Hampshire Insurance Department:  The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit http://www.nh.gov/insurance.

NH Insurance Department Announces Companies That Have Filed to Offer 2018 Marketplace Plans

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Insurance Department has received initial form filings from insurance companies that intend to offer medical and dental plans on the 2018 New Hampshire Marketplace (HealthCare.gov).

Four companies have applied to offer individual plans: Ambetter from NH Healthy Families, Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim, and Minuteman Health. Three companies have applied to offer small-group plans to groups of 50 employees or fewer through the Marketplace’s Small Business Health Options (SHOP) program: Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim, and Minuteman Health. Two companies have applied to offer dental insurance, both as individual plans and through SHOP: Anthem and Delta Dental.

New Hampshire’s Health Insurance Marketplace is run by a partnership between the federal government and the state. The Insurance Department reviews forms and rates and then recommends them for final approval by the federal government, which operates the Marketplace. May 12 was the deadline for insurance companies to submit initial form filings to the Insurance Department; companies have until June 2 to submit initial rate filings to the department. The Insurance Department will make its final recommendations to the federal government by September 27, and the federal government will formally sign off on plans by October 12. Open enrollment for 2018 individual plans will take place between November 1 and December 15. (SHOP plans can be purchased by an employer at any time throughout the year.)

By law, the Insurance Department cannot release rate information for 2018 Marketplace plans until November 1. If any proposed rates reflect an increase of 10% or more above last year’s rates, the federal government, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), will publish information about them, likely sometime this summer: https://ratereview.healthcare.gov/.

However, the Insurance Department will host two information sessions in June on the health care provider networks likely to be available through Marketplace plans in 2018. The first session will take place Monday, June 26, from 10-11 a.m. in Concord, at the Brown Auditorium, 129 Pleasant St. The second will be held online on Wednesday, June 28, from 11 a.m. to noon. For more information, and to register for either session: https://www.nh.gov/insurance/media/pr/2017/documents/050917-release-nhid-2018-networks-information-sessions.pdf

About the New Hampshire Insurance Department

The New Hampshire Insurance Department can help residents with questions or concerns about their existing coverage. To speak to a member of the Consumer Services Department, call at 603-271-2261 or email consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

NH Insurance Department to Hold Nov. 4 Annual Public Hearing on Health Insurance Premiums

Hearing Will Focus on Pharmaceuticals as a Cost Driver in New Hampshire

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Insurance Department will host its annual public hearing on health care costs and payment systems from 9 a.m.-2:45 p.m. on Friday, November 4, 2016, at the University of New Hampshire School of Law in Concord.  

According to state law, the Insurance Commissioner “shall hold an annual public hearing concerning premium rates in the health insurance market and the factors, including health care costs and cost trends, that have contributed to rate increases during the prior year.”

This year’s public hearing is based on data and information available in 2015. The hearing will focus on prescription drugs as a cost-driver.  

“The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s annual hearing is an important tool to increase transparency and foster dialogue on health care costs in New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “Each year, we convene health insurance companies, health care providers, members of state government, and New Hampshire residents to examine what’s behind higher health care costs in the state and what can be done about it. I encourage anyone who is interested to attend, either in person or remotely.”  

The health insurance consulting firm Gorman Actuarial will discuss the major findings from the 2015 data submitted by health insurance companies in New Hampshire in preparation for the hearing.  

Three separate panel discussions will focus on pharmaceuticals:

  • Drug Pricing, Clinical Effectiveness, and the Need for Transparency: The panel will feature an independent physician and a representative from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.
  • Pharmaceuticals, Payments, and Benefit Management: The panel will feature representatives from MedImpact, Cigna, and PhRMA.
  • Insurance Carriers: Representatives from Anthem and Harvard Pilgrim will discuss pharmacy benefit management, product design, and treatment alternatives. 

The Department also will present updates to its NHHealthCost.org website, a health care transparency tool developed to help consumers understand their actual costs for health care services throughout the state.  

The hearing is open to the public, although seating is limited. Live streaming of the event is planned. Reserve a seat to attend the event in person, or register for the livestream option. 

More information on the event can be found on the Insurance Department website: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/media/events/2016-annual-hearing.htm  

About the New Hampshire Insurance Department

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

As Storm Approaches, NH Insurance Department Urges Residents to Be Prepared

Concord, NH – As Hurricane Joaquin approaches the East Coast, New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny urges Granite State residents to be prepared.

“People should monitor local news outlets for updated information on the storm,” Commissioner Sevigny said. “And it always pays to be prepared: Keep bottled water and nonperishable food on hand, along with a first aid kit, flashlights, and a battery-powered radio. Locate the nearest available storm shelter, and decide on a communications plan and meeting places for your household.” 

The Insurance Department advises residents facing a potential storm like Joaquin to create a mitigation plan, to lessen the possible damage:

  • Survey your home and the area around it to identify and remove objects like yard debris that could compound damage in high winds.
  • Keep a list of 24-hour contact information for your insurance agent and insurance company. Make a list that includes your policy numbers, your insurance company’s and insurance agent’s phone numbers, website addresses and mailing addresses. Also, check to see if the company or your agent has set up an emergency information hotline, in case of storm damage. It’s a good idea to store this information, and a home inventory, in a waterproof/fireproof safe or a safe deposit box, and consider sending an electronic copy to someone you trust: If you have to evacuate your home, you want this information to be easily available to you.

  • A home inventory is one of the best ways to ensure you have adequate coverage on your home and belongings. It also makes filing an accurate claim easier. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers a free, printable checklist and a free mobile home inventory app on its website to help people create and maintain home inventories – visit https://insureuonline.org/insureu_type_home.

  • Plan for your loved ones’ needs in advance.  Ask schools, hospitals, nursing homes and day care facilities about their emergency plans and how they will keep your loved ones safe. 
  • If you or someone you know needs assistance to receive and respond to emergency alerts and to safely evacuate in an emergency, work with family members, neighbors, friends, service providers and coworkers as partners in planning strategies to assist.

For more information, visit the state’s emergency preparedness website, http://readynh.gov. For information on flood insurance and coverage, please see the Insurance Department’s recent guidance: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/media/pr/2015/documents/081215.pdf


Additional online resources: 

The New Hampshire Insurance Department Can Help

Contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your insurance coverage at 1-800-852-3416 or (603) 271-1406, or by email at consumerservices@ins.nh.gov. If you wish to file a grievance, you may call, email, or submit a complaint electronically or by mail or fax: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/consumers/complaints.htm. 

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.


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