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N.H. logs 23,210 Healthcare.gov signups during first month of open enrollment

Last modified: 12/31/2014 12:22:52 AM
More than half of the 23,210 New Hampshire residents who signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov during the first month of open enrollment were returning customers, according to a report released by the federal government yesterday.

Nationwide, the split between new customers and those re-enrolling for coverage is evenly split – 50/50, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But in New Hampshire, 41 percent of those selecting plans during the first month were new customers and 59 percent were re-enrollees.

Yesterday’s report on the first month’s data factors in customers who are “actively re-enrolling” in coverage, but not “automatic re-enrollees” – people who will keep their coverage but did not yet return to the marketplace.

Open enrollment for 2015 plans on the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace began Nov. 15. For coverage that would start tomorrow, customers needed to select a plan by Dec. 15. (Enrollment will continue through Feb. 15, but individual coverage starts on a tiered basis depending on when someone enrolls. More details on the deadlines can be found at HealthCare.gov.)

In that first month, the federal government said it received 22,616 completed applications for 33,210 individuals in New Hampshire. About 71 percent of the people from New Hampshire who completed applications and were deemed eligible for marketplace plans were also deemed eligible for financial assistance to offset the cost of the coverage, according to yesterday’s report.

Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace also seems to have been a boon to the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, the state’s version of Medicaid expansion. Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, enrollment increased from 23,438 to 27,779 – a jump of 4,335. As of Dec. 23, the most recently available data, the program had enrolled 29,296 people. Mary Ann Cooney, an associate commissioner with the department, anticipated that it will break 30,000 in the next week.

The pace of enrollment for the state’s Medicaid expansion picked up by a few hundred more people per week with the start of open enrollment on HealthCare.gov, Cooney noted.

Ahead of this year’s open enrollment, state officials and the teams doing outreach for the health insurance marketplace signaled plans to cross-promote enrollment for the programs.

The website for Covering New Hampshire, the campaign that’s leading much of that outreach surrounding new health coverage options in the state, promotes both the Medicaid expansion and the health insurance marketplace. An eligibility calculator on the website’s home page, for example, directs users to information about whichever program more closely aligns with their income and household size.

That side-by-side promotion has likely contributed to the recent growth seen in the state’s Medicaid expansion, Cooney said.

Last year, New Hampshire’s enrollment in health insurance plans offered through HealthCare.gov topped out at 40,262 – more than double initial projections. About half of those people enrolled during the final 45 days of the open enrollment period.

While only one carrier was available on the marketplace in New Hampshire last year, four additional insurance providers have joined to offer plans for 2015. And while some hospitals were not covered through the options offered last year, each of the state’s 26 hospitals is included on at least three insurance networks under this year’s plans.

(Casey McDermott can be reached at 369-3306 or cmcdermott@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @caseymcdermott.)


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