For 2014, only one health insurance carrier — Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield — applied to participate in the state-federal partnership exchange in New Hampshire, and currently offers 14 health plan options. But that is changing significantly in 2015. The New Hampshire exchange will include policies from five carriers, offering about 50 different plans, when open enrollment begins on November 15.
Two of the new carriers entering the New Hampshire exchange are ACA-created CO-OPs: Minuteman Health, based in Boston, and Maine Community Health Options (MCHO) that garnered 83 percent of the market share in neighboring Maine during the 2014 open enrollment. MCHO will have a limited presence in 2015, offering coverage in four NH counties: Coos, Carroll, Rockingham, and Strafford. But it plans to expand further in 2016.
The other new carriers will be Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Assurant.
The state finalized their review of plans and rates in August, and has submitted recommendations to HHS for final approval. The rates will be available on HealthCare.gov the second week in November, 2014.
All 26 hospitals in the state will accept coverage from at least three of the five carriers next year, a change that will likely be very popular with the state’s residents. Network issues have plagued the New Hampshire exchange in 2014, as Anthem only contracted with 16 of the state’s 26 hospitals in efforts to keep premiums as low as possible.
As a result, even though the exchange has just one carrier in 2014, premiums in New Hampshire are comparable to rates in states that have many carriers offering policies. But Anthem’s restrictions on its hospital and physician networks have been drawing fire, despite the low premiums that the narrow network allows.
For 2015, carriers plan to offer both narrow networks (with lower premiums) and broad networks (with higher premiums), so consumer choice will be improved in many ways in New Hampshire starting with the upcoming open enrollment period.