Health Insurance

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.

Steve Cottrell via Flickr CC

A survey of senior centers in New Hampshire shows that nearly 19 percent of older adults are in need of early or urgent dental care that may be difficult for them to access.

A total of 610 adults age 60 and older were screened last winter and this spring in the survey, which was funded by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors and New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services. The survey said 38 of the participants received restorative treatment using state funds.

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.

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:

Todd Bookman / NHPR

The Insurance Department kicked off a series of public meetings on Wednesday looking into network adequacy standards, with a focus on health plans that exclude doctors and hospitals.

Anthem’s ‘narrow network’ plans—the only option available through so-called ObamaCare this year—left out 10 of New Hampshire’s 26 hospitals, forcing some consumers to switch doctors.

The Insurance Department found Anthem’s plans met the current standards for coverage, which take into account the distance patients must travel for care.

State To Hear Complaint Against Anthem ACA Plans

Mar 30, 2014

New Hampshire's Insurance Department will hear a complaint about the exclusion of a hospital from the network of providers covered under the Affordable Care Act.   A patient at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester says Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's network is inadequate because it does not include Frisbie. Sixteen hospitals are in the network; 10 are not. Anthem has said the "narrow'' network keeps costs down and the state insurance department determined the network meets adequacy standards.    The department previously denied a petition by Frisbie and patient Margaret McCarthy.

Any insurance plan sold in the online exchange would first face a public hearing under a bill before State Senators. The measure comes in reaction to Anthem’s decision to cut out 10 of the state's 26 hospitals for plans sold on the new marketplace, a move many lawmakers and consumers say they were blindsided by.

The company defends the decision, saying it helped lower costs by 25%.

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
N.H. Insurance Department '2012 Medical Cost Drivers Report'

A new report finds health care costs in the state continue to rise, even as New Hampshire residents visit doctors less often.

The Insurance Department’s annual report, based on 2012 rates, finds average premiums were up just about 1% from the year before. But Tyler Brannen, an analyst with the Department, says those premium dollars are actually buying consumers less coverage.

Anthem Blue Cross says it’s still having trouble processing some new health insurance enrollments because of computer problems.  

New Hampshire has issued an order allowing nearly 3,000 residents with health insurance through the state's high risk pool to keep their coverage until alternatives are fully available under the federal health care overhaul law.    The high risk pool serves 2,750 residents who otherwise may have trouble obtaining insurance. It was scheduled to shut down Dec. 31 because after that, insurers must issue polices without regard to health status.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department wants to keep open a program that provides health coverage for 2,750 residents with pre-existing conditions. The $45-million high risk pool operated by the New Hampshire Health Plan was set to close at year’s end.

Since health insurance companies can no longer deny people because of pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act, state-run high risk pools around the country are winding down.

Lidor via flickr Creative Commons

With enrollment for healthcare plans under “Obamacare” set to begin tomorrow, NHPR’s health reporter, Todd Bookman, has kept a steady eye on the rollout of the affordable care act. He put together an easy-to-follow guide to what the new healthcare law means for New Hampshire residents, and joins us in the studio to run through some of those points.

Lowering Insurance Costs Like 'Turning A Battleship'

Sep 26, 2013
Todd Bookman / NHPR

 Insurance company executives told regulators on Thursday there’s no quick fix for the rising cost of health care in the state.

WUKY

Enrollment begins soon for the on-line health insurance “exchanges” or marketplaces. So far, in this state, only one insurer is taking part…with a product that offers lower cost but a narrower network.  We’ll look at the rollout of this one component of Obamacare.and what it could mean for the Granite State.

GUESTS:

Health Insurance Shake Up Continues In N.H.

Sep 9, 2013
Todd Bookman / NHPR

For the second time in less than a week, the health care landscape in New Hampshire is absorbing a major announcement.

The state’s University System says it saved $10 million last year by switching how it provides health insurance for employees.

Rather than paying an insurance company a fixed amount per employee for health coverage, the University System now uses a self-insured plan, where it pays out of pocket as health bills come in.

Self-insured plans put more risk on the employer, but Todd Leach, Chancellor of the University Stem, says the model made economic sense for his institution.

Quirk In Health Law Creates 'Coverage Canyon'

Jun 25, 2013
istock photo

At 60-years old, Wendy Rogers considers herself lucky. She’s healthy, her kids are grown. There’s just one thing that gets her down: health insurance.

“I really don’t let myself think about it, because it overwhelms me.”

Rogers lives in Franklin, in a tidy apartment decorated with framed photos of friends and family. She lost her insurance three years ago, after getting laid off from a local school district  where she was a kindergarten aide. Now she works part time at a child-care center.

Rogers says she relies on family for medical expenses.

Land Rover Our Planet / Alex E. Proimos / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire is one of only three states with a split legislature: Republicans control the Senate, Democrats the House of Representatives. The two bodies have shown an ability to work together on some issues this session, including business tax credits and limits on lead fishing tackle.

But with the end of the legislative year fast approaching, inter-chamber gamesmanship is on the rise. It can start simple enough. A routine legislative procedure on the House floor.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

“I have Crohn’s Disease, I have diabetes, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and I had a stroke. From all of this, I am on medication for depression as well.”

Chalk it up to bad genes: Amanda St-Amour struggles with a lot of health conditions.

She’s 30, lives in Merrimack, and pulls out a small laundry basket full of pill bottles.

“Basically, I take about 1, 2, 3…15 pills a morning.”

Recently, one pill has gone missing from the stack. It’s a drug called Trilipix, which St-Amour has taken for years to keep her triglyceride levels down.

Report Examines Rising Health Insurance Costs In N.H.

Mar 8, 2013

A new report from the New Hampshire Insurance Department says that heath insurance rates are on the rise in the state. The “Medical Cost Drivers Report” finds that health insurance premiums jumped 3.8%  in 2011.

The data also shows that insurance companies saw a near 3% increase in profits.

Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny says that rising co-pays and deductibles mean the insured are less able to rely on their health plans to cover medical bills.

There’s only so much cost sharing that someone can bear, and still call it insurance.

Michael Simmons via flickr Creative Commons

Pop question: how much does a hip replacement cost for an uninsured person? Answer: somewhere between $11,000 and $125,000. A college student’s survey of American hospitals found quoted costs to vary wildly – even when the hospitals provided quotes; many could not, or did not provide the quotes at all. The results were recently published by JAMA -- The Journal of American Medicine Association. Elisabeth Rosenthal covers health and medicine for the New York Times and wrote about the study for “Well”.

istock photo

A last minute deal to avert the fiscal cliff contained bad news for the future of health co-ops.

The Affordable Care Act set aside $6 billion to be used as loans for new non-profit, customer-owned insurance plans. The idea was that each state would have a health co-op that could compete with traditional insurers, in theory, driving down prices.

Alex E. Proimos / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Affordable Care Act says that every state has to select a health plan that will basically serve as a model for other plans.

So, if the model plan covers, say, infertility treatment, eyeglasses or autism services—those same benefits must be included in other plans.

This requirement only applies to the individual and small group markets, where about 200,000 New Hampshire residents shop for insurance.

Deadlines Loom in Health Plan Decision

Sep 12, 2012

A day after the primary elections, lawmakers were back at the statehouse discussing health insurance. At issue is what insurance companies will have to cover under the Affordable Care Act.

The ACA calls for states to select something called a private insurance Essential Health Benefit benchmark by September 30th. Simply put, lawmakers in Concord need to pick an insurance plan that will serve as a model for most other insurance plans offered in the state.

And they have less than three weeks to do it.

istock photo

New Hampshire’s insurance department told House and Senate lawmakers Wednesday what a federal Insurance Exchange will look like in New Hampshire.

Mercy Health, via Flickr

Reporters love to write in a kind of shorthand. And when it comes to Medicaid, the preferred shortcut is, 'the health care program for the poor.'

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