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Thousands sign up for new coverage, but with shortened open enrollment period and minimal publicity, local health care consumer and advocacy groups hustle to fill the gaps in New Hampshire before December 15th ACA Marketplace deadline

Concord, NH – New Hampshire health care consumer and advocacy groups are making a final push to bolster Affordable Care Act Marketplace enrollment before the upcoming deadline on Friday. And in a protracted enrollment period, they are finding success: According to the latest enrollment report from CMS, 25,242 Granite Staters had enrolled in a new plan by December 9thDuring the same time period in the last enrollment period, 21,154 Granite Staters had selected a plan by December 10th.

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Other key facts from the latest enrollment numbers:

·         3,728 more people enrolled in New Hampshire than this time last year – or 17% more

·         662,652 more people enrolled across the nation than this time last year – or 17% more

·         Another 31,510 Granite Staters enrolled or auto-enrolled in coverage during this week and the additional 6 weeks of open enrollment last year - or 59.4% of total enrollment

 

Health care consumer and advocacy groups note that the enrollment numbers to date are promising, but with this year’s open enrollment period cut in half and advertising for it slashed by 90 percent, many Granite State individuals and families could be left out in the cold unless they enroll by the December 15th deadline. Advocates remain focused on a public education and outreach campaign that over the last 5 weeks has sought to ensure Granite Staters know how, when, where, and why to enroll in health insurance before the December 15th deadline.

 

“We are committed to making sure Granite Staters have important information about the open enrollment period and the resources available to them to find and afford critical health care coverage,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress Education Fund and project manager for Covering New Hampshire.

 

The ACA public education and outreach campaign to date has included direct mail, paid digital ads, social media, video shorts, neighborhood literature drops, and a massive grassroots campaign to put important information about the ACA open enrollment period in front of New Hampshire individuals and families. In addition to the paid efforts, volunteers adopted more than 165 towns to distribute posters and flyers and mailed packets to local libraries, food banks, after-school programs, and community groups. Nearly 88% of New Hampshire residents live in a community covered by the outreach.

 

The effort is run by Covering New Hampshire in conjunction with Granite State Progress Education Fund and the NH Health Care Coalition, and made possible with grants from the HNH Foundation and NH Charitable Foundation.

 

“We are incredibly pleased with our progress to date, but with the open enrollment period cut in half we are in a full-out sprint to the December 15th deadline to encourage individuals and families to enroll in health care coverage,” Rice Hawkins said. “Free help is available, and just a click or call away. It is important for people to know that those who choose to go without health insurance may have to pay a penalty.”

 

Louise Spencer, co-founder of the Kent Street Coalition and one of the volunteer leads on the Covering New Hampshire campaign, added: “It is important that you sign up by December 15th, regardless of whether this is your first time getting covered or if you are returning to shop and save. Coverage could be cheaper than you think. Last year, 8 in 10 people qualified for financial help to make their monthly premiums more affordable and most people found plans available between $50 to $100 per month. Even if you had coverage through HealthCare.gov in the past, plans change so you should still update your information and double-check your network coverage for doctors and prescriptions, or see if you qualify for more cost-savings.”

 

To learn more about local resources, including in-person help to sign up and upcoming enrollment fairs, Granite Staters can visit https://coveringnewhampshire.org/. Consumers ready to apply for coverage can also go directly to 1-800-318-2596 or www.healthcare.gov.