Open enrollment for 2018 health insurance begins this week

Open enrollment through the federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace (www.Healthcare.gov) will run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 this year. In advance of open
enrollment on and off the Marketplace, the N.H. Insurance Department offers information and resources for the 45,000 state residents who plan to purchase health insurance in the individual market for 2018 coverage.

The last day to sign up for a plan is Dec. 15. Coverage will begin on Jan. 1, 2018. Residents can enroll in an individual insurance plan outside of the open enrollment period only if they qualify for a special enrollment period of 60 days following qualifying life events.

“We are encouraging N.H. residents to update their applications on Healthcare.gov and actively compare plan options," said N.H. Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “Buying insurance is signing a contract. Once you lock in coverage, your rates and cost-sharing amounts will stay the same all year. But if you don’t sign up now, you will not have another chance until next year — unless your situation changes.”

Local residents may contact the Coos County Family Health Center to connect with an advisor who will answer questions or direct you to someone who can. The number for the health center located on Pleasant Street in Berlin is (603) 752-2040. For the Gorham location on Broadway Avenue, the number is (603) 466-2741.

In 2018, three insurance companies will offer individual plans on the N.H. Marketplace: Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Hampshire, Ambetter from N.H. Healthy Families, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Minuteman Health will not be offered in New Hampshire for 2018, and current Minuteman members are encouraged to shop and select a new plan for 2018. Harvard Pilgrim’s statewide plan will not be offered for 2018 on the N.H. Marketplace and members are encouraged to look at whether the Harvard Pilgrim ElevateHealth plan meets their needs.

Those who do not select a new plan during open enrollment will be automatically assigned to one by the Marketplace after Dec. 15. For your coverage to begin on Jan. 1, 2017, you will need to enroll by Dec. 15, 2017. You will need to pay your first premium by your insurance company’s due date before your 2018 coverage will take effect.

Federal assistance based on income levels is still available for 2018. Depending on your income level, you may qualify for cost assistance for paying premiums and/or out-of-pocket costs for a health insurance plan bought through the Marketplace, or for no-cost or low-cost coverage under the N.H. Health Protection Program. All of these subsidies remain available for 2018 plans, so long as you sign up during open enrollment.

When you complete an application on www.Healthcare.gov, you will be prompted to enter your tax household size and financial information. After completing the application, you will be notified if you qualify for financial assistance for a Marketplace plan or for coverage through the N.H. Health Protection Program.

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. If you are already enrolled in the N.H. Health Protection Program, you will receive information from the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services about how to pick a plan for 2018. N.H. Health Protection Program members with Minuteman Health coverage will receive information from the state Department of Health and Human Services about moving to a new plan.

To compare individual plans by metal level category, services offered, and out-of-pocket expenses go to nh.gov/insurance/lah/documents/nhid_plan_compare_2018.pdf.

For a more detailed look at the networks available through the 2018 Marketplace, go to  nh.gov/insurance/lah/documents/2017_na_pres_issuer_ntw.pdf.

More information on the N.H. Health Protection Program is available from the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services at dhhs.nh.gov/ombp/nhhpp.

“I want the N.H. residents to know that the Insurance Department is here as a resource: Our Consumer Services staff is available to assist with issues that arise after enrolling in coverage," Sevigny said.