My Turn: Health coverage now viable option for many in New Hampshire
Since July 1, many New Hampshire residents have a new health insurance option. The New Hampshire Health Protection Program will provide coverage to thousands of our neighbors, friends and family members.
For many, peace of mind means getting coverage for preventive care such as regular check-ups. It also means enrollees will be covered should they need such services as emergency care due to accidents, mental health counseling or substance abuse treatment.
New Hampshire’s new health care expansion plan, signed into law in March, means New Hampshire residents ages 19 to 65 who meet financial eligibility guidelines can apply for coverage. For example, a household of one with a monthly income limit of $1,342, a household of two with a monthly income limit of $1,809, a household of three with a monthly income limit of $2,276, and a household of four with a monthly income limit of $2,743 would all be eligible to apply.
Coverage under the New Hampshire Health Protection Program begins on Aug. 15. People can enroll four ways: online at nheasy.nh.gov, by calling our Medicaid Services Center at 1-888-901-4999, by visiting one of the DHHS district offices across the state, or through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace at HealthCare.gov.
To date, about 3,000 adults have signed up. If you think you may qualify, we encourage you to submit an application now, before you need to seek medical care.
The benefits of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program are many. Providing coverage for people who do not have health insurance is a great investment in New Hampshire’s future. Overall, health care costs are reduced when chronic illnesses are treated and when there is a decrease in overuse of emergency rooms for medical needs that can be handled at a primary care visit. A healthy population can strengthen our economy, and ensuring access to health care puts people on a path to an overall state of health and well-being.
Under the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, adults who get cost-effective insurance through their jobs will stay covered through their employer-sponsored insurance, but now the state will pay their premiums and other costs of coverage. Those who do not have access to cost-effective insurance at work can join in managed care plans offered by Well Sense and New Hampshire Healthy Families.
We have staff and partners ready to answer any questions for those who may qualify through our toll-free number 1-888-901-4999 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or at any of our 11 district offices from Berlin to Nashua. To assist providers, we are producing materials that advise clinicians and clinic staff on how to help their patients enroll in one of the two new coverage programs.
This new health coverage program required us to build new systems and change our operational capacities, but at the Department of Health and Human Services, we were ready to address the challenges and are working hard to make sure the implementation of this new program is a success for New Hampshire. It is a top priority of the department because we know the security it will bring to those who enroll.
This is the biggest expansion of health coverage for New Hampshire’s citizens in decades, and I am proud to be leading the dedicated team responsible for standing up the New Hampshire Health Protection Program.
(Nicholas Toumpas is commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.)