ACA

Jack Rodolico

There’s an upside and a downside to being an independent massage therapist.

Upside: no boss. You work for yourself. Downside: no boss. There’s no employer to provide health insurance.

"So then the Affordable Care Act was coming around," says Rachelle Lowe, a masseuse in Concord, "what I found was it wasn’t as affordable as I thought. And the deductibles are outrageous, so at this time I’m still not insured."

Vermont’s online health insurance exchange has been beset with problems since its launch a year and a half ago. In a surprise announcement on Friday, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Vermont will abandon Vermont Health Connect if it doesn’t start working properly soon.

The Obama Administration has opened a special enrollment period for health insurance through the federal exchange.

The federal government is betting people who did not sign up for insurance last year are now noticing they will be paying a penalty on their 2014 taxes, which are due next month.

So the hope is by opening up a special enrollment period, those same folks will buy policies so they will not have another penalty on their 2015 taxes.

In 2015, about 25 percent more New Hampshire residents bought insurance on the federal healthcare marketplace than the year before.

Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services said 53,005 people enrolled in plans in New Hampshire. The department also reports just over 50 percent of those enrollees were under the age of 35 – a target demographic for health reform advocates. 

2015 HealthCare.gov Enrollees By Type: New Hampshire

Click the bubbles above the chart to see the breakdown of re-enrollees by type:

 An insurance company and a group of medical providers are teaming up to start a new insurance company in New Hampshire.

The new company is a partnership between Massachusetts-based Tufts Health Plan and Granite Healthcare Network – the parent company for Catholic Medical Center, Concord Hospital, Wentworth-Douglas Hospital, LRGHealthcare, and Southern New Hampshire Health System.

Tufts Health Freedom Plan will begin selling insurance to employers. The company is considering selling in the individual market too, including on the federal healthcare exchange.

More people signed up this year for insurance through Healthcare.gov than last year. But that news comes the same day the federal government announced it accidentally sent incorrect tax information to 800,000 people who purchased plans on the website.

In New Hampshire, 52,944 residents bought insurance through the federal exchange during the enrollment period that ended this past Sunday. That’s about 13,000 more than last year.

This weekend marks the last chance for Granite Staters to sign up for insurance through Healthcare.gov.

To avoid a tax penalty, people have to purchase a plan with a starting date of March 1 by this Sunday.

Jayne Navarro, a patient navigator at Manchester Community Health Center, says she’s had steady traffic through her office for the past few weeks.

"People are now really understanding – especially now coming tax season – the importance of being able to take care of this," says Navarro.

istock photo

 According to new data from the federal government, 46,642 New Hampshire residents now have insurance through the federal healthcare marketplace. That figure includes people who have enrolled since November, and others whose plans from last year automatically renewed.

About 40,000 residents signed up last year, when New Hampshire's online exchange had only one insurer. But during this enrollment period, there are five insurers offering about 40 plans. Uninsured Granite Staters have until February 15 to sign up for a plan, or they could face a tax penalty.

 

A Republican state senator says allowing New Hampshire residents to buy health insurance across state lines would increase competition and lower costs, but the state Insurance Department says his proposal would not accomplish those goals.

Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford told the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday that if a health plan in another state meets federal requirements under the Affordable Care Act, there's no reason why New Hampshire residents shouldn't be able to buy it. He says if a plan is good enough for Alabama, it should be good enough for New Hampshire.

Via NH.gov

Nearly 90 percent of those leaving New Hampshire's prison system are eligible for health care coverage under the state's expanded Medicaid program. And while they make up a small fraction of the more than 30,000 who have signed up so far, health and corrections officials say getting them enrolled could have far-reaching effects.

Rick Kimpel via Flickr CC

A new federal report says New Hampshire hospitals are making progress in reducing both errors and unnecessary re-admissions.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services released a report this month estimating that the 3,700 hospitals participating in the Partnership for Patients program prevented 1.3 million patient harms and re-admissions and saved more than $12 billion in health spending around the country.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon

Three New Hampshire hospitals will be penalized next year for potentially avoidable mistakes, such as patient infections and injuries.

The federal government claims Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon and Eliot Hospital and Catholic Medical Center in Manchester should have done more to protect people from a list of "hospital-acquired conditions" in 2013. Those conditions include falls, bed sores, and infections from catheters.

As a result, in the fiscal year starting next October, the feds will penalize those three hospitals one percent of their Medicare payments.

Simon Bergmann via Flickr CC

Monday marks a key deadline in the enrollment period for New Hampshire residents shopping for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The health law's second signup season ends February 15th, but Monday is the last day to enroll for coverage that starts January 1st.

As that date nears, insurance company officials are urging consumers to consider all their options given that the number of companies offering health plans has increased from one to five. The number of plans available to individuals also has jumped, from 11 to 40.

Jennifer Murrow / Flickr/CC

The second season of enrollment is now open for the Affordable Care Act’s online insurance marketplaces.  Last year’s rollout in New Hampshire was marred by technical flaws and extremely limited choice.  We’re finding out what’s in store this time, and how political and court challenges may affect the law’s future.

GUESTS:

NHPR Staff

A new data set gives a bird’s eye view of New Hampshire’s uninsured residents – and how they stand to gain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The data itself is not shocking. State health officials and insurers alike know New Hampshire’s most rural communities have the highest rates of uninsured. But this is the first time that information has been aggregated into a map that viewers can navigate on a county-by-county basis.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is emphasizing parts of the health care overhaul law that help seniors, while one of the Republicans hoping to unseat her is arguing against it.

New Hampshire is getting a $1 million grant to expand a home visiting program for pregnant woman and parents with children up to age 5.

The money is going to the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program established by the Affordable Care Act.

The money will allow nurses, social workers and early childhood educators to reach more parents and families.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department is sharing potential revisions to how it decides whether insurance policies cover enough doctors and other health care providers.

What's New With The Affordable Care Act In N.H.

Jun 16, 2014
Taylor Shaw-Adams / Flickr/CC

Expanded Medicaid for low-income adults is coming, but may be delayed.  Meanwhile, four more insurance companies say they’re ready to join New Hampshire’s marketplace for coverage next year.  And as we head into this fall's elections,  the health care law remains a major point of political contention. 

GUESTS:

  • Todd BookmanNHPR’s health reporter
  • Jenny Patterson - health legal counsel at the New Hampshire Insurance Department

CALLOUTS:

Healthcare.gov Appears To Be A Good Deal For States

May 8, 2014
via RI.gov

New Englanders are a frugal bunch, so they may want to take note that when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, healthcare.gov was more efficient than the state-run exchanges.

A new report out from a former Obama Administration official finds that the cost-per-enrollee was lower in federally-run exchanges than in state-run exchanges.

ACA's Deadline Day

Mar 31, 2014
Pan-African News Wire Photos / Flickr/CC

Under the Affordable Care act, Monday is the last chance for uninsured Americans to choose a plan or pay a penalty.  We’ll get the latest on New Hampshire enrollments, and other aspects of this law in the Granite State, including the newly signed Medicaid Expansion and new players coming to the state’s insurance market next year.

GUESTS:

Ann McLane Kuster / Flickr Creative Commons

Second District Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster was swept into office in the last election amid a storm of anti-incumbent feeling in the Granite State. In her victory speech, she promised to work in the spirit of bipartisanship.

NHPR Staff

Former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta is starting a "health care listening tour" at one of the hospitals excluded from the provider network for health plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act.

Guinta, a Republican hoping to regain the seat he lost to Democrat Carol Shea-Porter in 2012, on Thursday is visiting Frisbie Memorial Hospital. The hospital is a vocal critic of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's new narrow provider network.

N.H. Enrollment In ACA Marketplace Plans Tops 11,000

Jan 13, 2014
Data: U.S. Health and Human Services

After a slow start, December saw a surge in the number of New Hampshire residents shopping for health insurance on the new exchange. The federal government reports nearly 10,000 consumers in the state selected a plan between Dec. 1 and Dec. 28.

In total, about 11,500 people selected a plan during the first three months of open enrollment, which runs through March 31. 

A New Hampshire-based accountable care organization created under the federal Affordable Care Act is expanding to include three more hospitals.

Under the accountable care organization model, networks of doctors and health care providers work together to provide high-quality, coordinated care for their patients while trying to limit unnecessary spending. Participants are required to meet quality standards for patient outcomes and other measures.

truthout.org / Flickr Creative Commons

Twenty-fourteen is when the rubber hits road for the ACA, with new deadlines and new requirements kicking in. These include the so-called individual mandate, which says everyone must carry health insurance or pay a penalty.  We’re talking about what to expect in the Granite State in 2014.

GUESTS:

  • Todd Bookman- NHPR’s health reporter
  • Jay Hancock – reporter for Kaiser Health News

Now that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has launched, just how affordable will it make health insurance in New Hampshire? We hosted a special panel featuring Laura Knoy, host of NHPR's The Exchange, along with Tiffany Eddy of the Live Free or Die Alliance for a town hall discussion broadcast live on the web on Tuesday, November 19th. Here's an edited version for Friday's broadcast.

Guests:

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Much has been made of the changes introduced, with the passing of the Affordable Care Act, to the health care markets, but many still struggle to understand how they will be personally affected.

While only making up 3.5% of New Hampshire's overall market, the individual market is seeing the greatest level of upheaval, with the addition of the newly insured, the merging of the high-risk pools, changes to the small group market, shifting premiums, changing benefits, and federal subsidies.

The graphic below aims to make sense of many of the changes happening in the individual market.
[Click to view full size]

If you’ve been following the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire, you might be struggling to keep up with the twists and turns - from legislation passed in 2012 that barred creation of a state-run marketplace, to the thousands of letters Anthem Blue Cross mailed to policyholders this month, telling them their health plans did not meet the law’s coverage standards.

It's unclear how New Hampshire would be affected by President Barack Obama's announcement that insurance companies can keep offering plan that would otherwise be canceled.

Obama said Thursday that insurers can continue to sell polices canceled under his health care overhaul law for at least one more year to existing customers.

Officials at New Hampshire's insurance department are still evaluating the change and expect to know more on Friday.

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