Enrollment period for health insurance starts Nov. 1

Monitor staff
Published: 10/31/2019 4:53:03 PM
Modified: 10/31/2019 4:52:50 PM

The enrollment period for the federal health insurance under the Affordable Care Act starts Friday, Nov. 1, and the state expects that about 39,000 people will end up buying insurance through it, slightly less than last year’s tally of 44,000.

Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace will run through Dec. 15.

“In 2019, almost three-quarters of the people enrolled in plans on healthcare.gov qualified for financial assistance,” Insurance Commissioner John Elias said in a ceremony Thursday.

Financial assistance can be tax credits for monthly premiums and reductions for out-of-pocket expenses, depending on income.

Health insurance can be purchased outside of the federal Marketplace. through an insurance agent or directly from an insurance company, and it will cover the same essential services as a Marketplace plan. But such purchases are not eligible for the tax breaks or subsidies.

In 2020, three insurance companies will offer a total of 26 individual plans on the New Hampshire Marketplace: Anthem, Ambetter from N.H. Healthy Families, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

For coverage to begin on Jan. 1, enrollment must be completed by Dec. 15. When the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, first went into effect in 2014 there were three months to enroll but the administration shortened it as part of a series of cutbacks to the program, which President Donald Trump has long attacked, saying it is unnecessary and expensive.

The website healthcare.gov has a “window shopping” tool to compare or complete an application to get a quote. It also has access to an insurance agent and assister who can help the process.

People who are already enrolled in Marketplace coverage should receive renewal information from their insurance company and the Marketplace. Officials say that it is important to update applications and look at options for 2020 because plan benefits and networks change from year to year.

You can buy a plan outside of the federal Marketplace – through an insurance agent or directly from an insurance company – and it will cover the same essential services as a Marketplace plan.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department can help you with questions or concerns about your existing coverage. To speak to a member of the Consumer Services Department, call (800) 852-3416, (603) 271- 2261 or email consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313, dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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