Obamacare enrollment fairs held in N.H. as deadline approaches
New Hampshire residents looking to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act still have time to beat the March 31 deadline.
To help with sign-ups, community health centers across the state are hosting enrollment fairs where people can get help making their way through the online enrollment and insurance purchasing process.
Concord’s community health center isn’t participating, so a group of local nonprofit organizations is hosting an event tomorrow at 4 Park St. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The health centers are ideal locations “because they are already an integral part of the community where they are, and they have exam rooms that all have computers hooked up to the internet, and the registration area we can use for checking people in,” said Marilyn Sullivan, project coordinator for outreach and enrollment with Bi-State Primary Care Association, which is the primary organizer of the enrollment events.
“Organizing for Concord wasn’t challenging except finding a location. It’s a little more rough around the edges, but it’s going to be good.”
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, the only company selling plans on the federal marketplace for New Hampshire this year, created a network for the plans that does not include Concord Hospital. The Family Health Center in Concord is a department of the hospital, which is why it is not participating in the enrollment day, said Pamela Puleo, vice president of community affairs for the hospital.
The Park Street building, with its entrance just feet from a path to the State House, is home to a handful of community activism groups, including New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, which is the official host of the event.
But America Votes, NH Voices for Health and other groups will also be helping, said Karen Kelly, community organizer for New Hampshire Citizens Alliance.
“Health care has always been one of the issues we’ve worked on,” she said. “But everyone in this building has worked really hard to get us to a place where people have a chance to enroll in health care coverage.”
Some groups are loaning space: America Votes has a room with six desktop computers where a trained assister will be able to help people if they have questions while enrolling on their own.
Other groups are just loaning tables for the registration and check-in, or bringing cell phones in case people need to call the federal hotline for help or confirmation as they apply for health insurance.
People have until March 31 to enroll in a health insurance plan if they don’t already have coverage. Enrollment will open again Nov. 15 for 2015 coverage.
More than 21,500 New Hampshire residents had signed up for a plan on the marketplace by the beginning of this month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Plans on the marketplace are eligible for federal tax subsidies and credits that can significantly lower the cost of coverage for people without access to affordable insurance through an employer.
(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)