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Covering NH offers information on health care options for NH residents

The Health Insurance Marketplace is up and running in New Hampshire and more than 40,000 residents are now enrolled in one of these new health insurance plans. Starting this fall, the Marketplace will have another open enrollment period that will offer residents more plans and health coverage options.

The Health Insurance Marketplace was created by the Affordable Care Act to provide health insurance for people under the age of 65 who can’t get coverage through work. The first open enrollment period began in October 2013.

During that time New Hampshire residents could sign up for a plan on Healthcare.gov, or with the help of a certified health care Navigator or Assister. That open enrollment period closed in April, but residents may still be able to access coverage through the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, also known as Medicaid Expansion.

People who do not qualify for Medicaid, but make below a certain income threshold may be eligible for the newly created New Hampshire Health Protection Program. This provides access to health insurance plans at no cost or little cost to individuals and families.

These plans, like plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace, must include basic care, such as primary care physician visits, prescription drug coverage, emergency room visits and maternity care. There are no lifetime limits on coverage and a person cannot be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition.

For those who do not qualify for the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, open enrollment for all Marketplace plans, regardless of income, will begin in November.

New Hampshire residents will be able to choose from more than 50 plans being offered by five different insurance companies. Thanks to this recent expansion in health insurance options, all of New Hampshire’s 26 hospitals will have contracts with at least three insurance carriers.

The Marketplace also offers financial assistance to people who enroll. Through these Marketplace plans, enrollees may be eligible for subsidies that reduce the cost of premiums and in some cases out-of-pocket costs.

People are not eligible for subsidies unless they purchase a plan on the Marketplace.

It is important to remember that those who decide not to enroll in a health insurance plan this year will be charged a penalty. Under the Affordable Care Act, anyone who is uninsured for the majority of 2014 will be charged a fee equal to 1 percent of your family income or $95, whichever is greater.

In 2015, that fee increases to 2 percent of your family income or $325 per person. It may seem more affordable to go without health insurance, but without coverage you not only have to pay a fee, but you also face the risk of paying for all of your medical costs out-of-pocket.

To help New Hampshire residents understand all the changes to health care, an organization called Covering New Hampshire was created. It is the official, free resource for Granite Staters to learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace and the new, affordable health insurance plans that are now available.

Covering New Hampshire and its website www.coveringnewhampshire.org are also there to connect people with in-person assisters who can help them enroll. 

For those who have questions about enrolling, the New Hampshire Health Protection Program or the Health Insurance Marketplace, Covering New Hampshire can answer your questions.

For more information, go to www.coveringnewhampshire.org.

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