Cloudy
36°
Cloudy
Hi 50° | Lo 33°
HealthBeat

Obamacare delay makes few ripples in N.H. because of existing state law granting extensions

President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, before the start of a meeting with representatives of health insurance companies. From left are, Chris Jennings, deputy assistant to the president for Health Policy; Department of Health and Human Services Office of Health Reform Director  Michael Hash; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services head Marilyn Tavenner; the president; White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, before the start of a meeting with representatives of health insurance companies. From left are, Chris Jennings, deputy assistant to the president for Health Policy; Department of Health and Human Services Office of Health Reform Director Michael Hash; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services head Marilyn Tavenner; the president; White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Hampshire has extended the deadline for current individual-plan customers to renew their policies for next year.

The deadline, which was yesterday, has been extended to Nov. 30.

Anthem communicated the decision to brokers earlier in the week, and the state Insurance Department issued a statewide news release about it yesterday.

“It’s just Anthem bending over backward to give consumers an extra two weeks to renew their coverage,” said Deputy Commissioner of Insurance Alex Feldvebel. “Usually they need to purchase it 15 days before the new effective date, but now they’re saying purchase by Nov. 30 for a Dec. 1 effective date.”

The extension comes one day after President Obama announced his administration would not enforce the minimum standards for health insurance plans for one year, allowing insurance companies for one more year to sell health plans that were to be canceled.

Obama’s announcement did not change anything in New Hampshire, because of a state law that already allowed consumers to purchase a 12-month extension of their current policies.

Many other states adopted insurance rules that mirrored the federal government’s, so the insurance commissioners in those states are weighing whether or not to follow suit and waive the minimum standards for a year, Feldvebel said.

“There’s two competing values: maintaining a good risk pool versus maximizing consumer choice,” he said. “You want the risk pools to be healthy ones so that coverage in that market is affordable, so you don’t want to segment risk pools.”

Roughly 40,000 New Hampshire residents purchase insurance plans on their own, almost all of them through Anthem.

State law allows consumers to renew their insurance plans at any point in the year of coverage and guarantees a right to keep the policy for 12 months after it starts; the federal policy says only policies that take effect after Jan. 1, will be subject to all of the rules and regulations of Obama’s health care reform law.

Thus, any Anthem customer who renews a current plan in time for it to be effective before Jan. 1 can keep their plan, the company announced earlier this month.

Those customers would not be eligible for tax credits or subsidies offered for next year on the federal insurance marketplace, however.

For Josh Kattef of Hopkinton, that’s okay. He and his wife have purchased an insurance plan through Anthem since 2010. This year, their premium was $315 per month.

Earlier this year, believing their plan would not be offered anymore, Kattef investigated plans on the marketplace, where tax credits and subsidies through the Affordable Care Act are available.

Even with the available federal assistance, his premium and deductible each would have been 50 percent more expensive each. He looked into purchasing a plan from another company, because the network for Anthem’s plans on the marketplace don’t include Concord Hospital, where he and his wife go for their medical care.

That plan’s premium would have been $700 a month, he said.

Once Anthem sent customers notices advising them of the state law that allows them to renew early and keep their plan for a year, he decided to stick with Anthem, mostly to delay major changes.

He’s spent several hours on the phone several different times this month to secure and then confirm an extension of his current plan through next December.

His premium will be $345, he said.

“We were all ready to switch, but then we decided to just push it off another year,” he said. “It’s kind of funny, because it’s like, we’re all talking about next year like there’s some hope that something will get fixed.”

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

Legacy Comments4

It is Anthem Blue-Cross that decided not to include Concord Hospital and other hospitals in their network plans not "Obamacare". Yes there are problems with the heathcare webstie, but many people refuse to see that most of the health coverage problems are the result of the fact that all the insurance companies are for profit. Therefore they base their plans (including cancellations as they always have) on maximizing their profits.

I would like to see one story why Anthem has not issued my policy that I signed up for on October 13th at the healthcare.gov site, and why Anthem has no provision for those who have signed up to get any information from them. Yes, you can email customer support if you have a policy number. Catch-22, if they haven't issued a policy you have no customer number. Yes, you can call them if you want to buy a policy direct from them. But if you're a marketplace customer no one you call will help you, and they have no contact number for anyone who can.

Perhaps the ObamaKare Website has failed you. Failures of the ObamaKare Website has been big news for weeks

I want to thank the Concord Monitor and Reporter Sarah Palermo for this more in depth coverage of the impact of ObamaKare here in NH. It was Sarah who reported that Concord hospital (and affiliated doctors) will be in the 40% of NH hospitals (and doctors) that will not be covered under ObamaKare. This story tells readers how ObamaKare has negatively impacted their neighbors here in NH. Losing their doctor, losing their hospital but thanks to NH law they will be able to bypass ObamaKare for almost a year. Unfortunately the story ends with little hope after ObamaKare kicks in. I am hoping that we will see more stories from the Monitor so that we hold politicians like Jeanne Shaheen, Carol Shea-Porter, and Anne Kuster for their votes for and votes supporting ObamaKare.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.