Health care signups increase to 1,569 in N.H.
Nearly five times as many New Hampshire residents selected a health plan through the new federal health insurance market in November compared with the first month of open enrollment.
Figures released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show 1,300 individuals selected a plan last month, compared with 269 in October, bringing the total to 1,569. Altogether, the state had 8,763 completed applications by Nov. 30, covering 17,234 people.
About 30 percent of those who have completed applications so far have been eligible for tax credits and other financial assistance.
Nationally, just more than 364,600 people have selected plans under the health care overhaul law as of Nov. 30. That’s more than three times the October total but less than one-third of the 1.2 million people officials had originally projected would enroll by the end of November.
New Hampshire, which has about 150,000 uninsured residents, opted against setting up its own marketplace, but the state is partnering with the federal government to manage the health plans and provide consumer assistance. Problems with the federal HealthCare.gov website have kept many people from enrolling in insurance, however.
In the meantime, the public relations company hired in mid-November to handle advertising and marketing of the health care overhaul law in New Hampshire expects to launch an educational website by the end of the month.
Jayme Simoes of Louis Karno and Co. said focus groups held about the state last week helped answer key questions about what consumers know about the health care system, how they use it and where they turn for information. In some cases, the answers were surprising, he said, and they will be used to refine a 1,000-person telephone poll planned for the next few weeks.
“You never start with assumptions, you start with knowledge,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot.”
Compared with many other states, New Hampshire got off to a late start with marketing and consumer outreach because Republicans initially blocked the state Insurance Department from accepting federal money, prompting the New Hampshire Health Plan to apply for the money instead. In addition to the marketing campaign and website, the money is being used to pay for marketplace assisters at six community organizations.