Health care site in New Hampshire mostly working well, officials say
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Hampshire has received 10,000 applications for health coverage through the federal health insurance marketplace, and payments for more than half of them, company President Lisa Guertin told a state oversight board yesterday.
Multiple people can be covered through one application – spouses or parents and children covered on family policies, for example – so Guertin couldn’t say how many people have secured coverage through the marketplace so far.
Once customers have paid the first premium for the coverage, they’ll be able to print a temporary ID card within a few days from Anthem’s website, Guertin told the state’s Health Exchange Advisory Board.
Northeast Delta Dental has so far processed about 1,000 applications through the marketplace, said Chris Alibrandi, health care reform project coordinator for that insurer.
Applications through the once-troubled HealthCare.gov are moving smoothly, both said.
“I hesitate to say this, but there is a part of me that feels like maybe the worst is over,” Alibrandi said.
One glitch remains, however. Katja Fox, a representative of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said the federal website still is not able to send the state Medicaid department information about people who apply to purchase coverage but are eligible for Medicaid.
People who apply to the state for Medicaid coverage, but are ineligible, are connected to the marketplace site, but the reverse is not happening yet, Fox said, adding that the other 35 states using HealthCare.gov are experiencing a similar problem.
Anthem customers are still struggling with the company’s hotline, a problem directly due to the high volume of calls being made, Guertin said.
More than half of applications for coverage were submitted in the last two weeks of the first eligibility period, which ended Dec. 24, she said.
On Thursday and Friday of last week, the call center received as many calls as it normally received in a month, and each call is taking twice as long as expected, she said.
Most of the calls are people looking to find out if their application or payment has been processed, she said.
Once an application is processed, the customer should receive a letter requesting payment. The quickest way to make a payment is online, Guertin said.
The letter will also contain a reference number that customers can use to check on Anthem’s website whether their payment has been processed and their temporary identification card is available to print, she said.
The oversight board also heard from Karen Hicks, project coordinator for CoveringNewHampshire.org, who detailed the results of a statewide survey of uninsured people.
The survey will be used to direct a marketing campaign for the CoveringNewHampshire.org website, a federally funded hub of information about the Affordable Care Act and plans available for sale with federal subsidies in New Hampshire, beginning with radio and television ads in February, she said.
Despite a higher population density in southern New Hampshire, 55 percent of uninsured people in the state live in the northern half of the state.
Uninsured people in the state are also younger than expected from national models: 55 percent of uninsured people in New Hampshire are younger than 40, while nationally, 43 percent of uninsured people are in that age group.
More than a third of uninsured people in the state are men under age 40.
People without insurance through an employer have until mid-March to purchase health insurance and avoid a penalty on their 2014 tax return. To get coverage effective Feb. 1, customers would need to secure a policy by Wednesday.
(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)