Concord, New Hampshire - Insurance Commissioner Chris Nicopoulos, Rep. Chris Pappas, Professor Lucy Hodder, and NH Navigator Program Director Jeremy Smith joined Covering New Hampshire for a virtual press conference to preview the upcoming Open Enrollment period and to provide Granite Staters with the resources they need to get health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act during this critical time.
This year’s open enrollment period for health insurance is November 1st to December 15th. New Hampshire residents can compare plans and apply for health insurance at www.healthcare.gov. Many individuals who purchase coverage through the ACA will also qualify for advanced premium tax credits, which will subsidize the cost of their monthly health care premiums, or may be eligible for other programs to help lower health care costs. The 2021 open enrollment period starting November 1st is only available for six weeks, so it is important that Granite Staters act quickly and enroll by the December 15th deadline. People who already have a plan and need to re-enroll are encouraged to double-check the network and prescription drug coverage for any changes, and to update their information in case they qualify for any additional cost-savings. Free help is available by calling (603) 931-3858 or toll free at 1-877-211-NAVI, or visiting http://localhelp.healthcare.gov.
Chris Nicolopoulos, the Commissioner of the New Hampshire Insurance Department, said, “I encourage everyone to exercise caution and ask questions before purchasing a health plan from a company other than Anthem, Ambetter, or Harvard Pilgrim. If someone is unsure about the insurance company or agent they are working with, they should stop before signing any paperwork or writing a check and call the Insurance Department to confirm the company or agent offering the coverage is legitimate and licensed in the state.”
Zandra Rice Hawkins, the executive director of Granite State Progress Education Fund and the project manager for Covering New Hampshire, said, “Having health insurance means being able to go to the doctor when you are sick or accessing preventive care to address a health issue before it becomes something more serious. Families who sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act may qualify for financial assistance and can have peace of mind throughout the year that they are purchasing a quality insurance plan that will be there for them when they need it, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. All health insurance plans sold in the Marketplace must cover the ten essential health benefits, such as preventive and wellness services, prescription drug coverage, emergency care, and mental health and substance use disorder treatment. It is important that people read the details for any health insurance plan purchased outside the Marketplace, because it does not necessarily have to cover these essential health benefits.”
Jeremy Smith is the program director for NH Navigator, a non-profit dedicated to helping Granite Staters understand their health care options through the ACA and enroll in the right plan for themselves and their families. Smith said, “This time of year, people are bombarded with ads for health insurance. Some are legitimate, but some are not. We are grant-funded, so we have no profit motive, and our only goal is to help people find the best, most affordable plan for them.” Smith noted that many people are concerned as they see partisan fights over the ACA, and worry that they will lose coverage, adding that, “No matter who is elected or who is on the Supreme Court, those who sign up this year during open enrollment will be able to keep their plan for 2021, no matter what pre-existing conditions they have.”
Lucy Hodder, a law professor at UNH and the director of the health law and policy programs at the College of Health and Human Services, said, “Having health insurance is so important to Granite Staters to protect against huge bills and costs when we get sick and protect us when we need physical and mental health care during the pandemic and beyond. With Affordable Care Act coverage, you can sign up for insurance right now and be protected even with pre-existing conditions, job loss, a substance use disorder or other conditions.” She added, “The ACA has transformed care in the Granite State, allowing thousands of people to have health insurance through our Insurance Marketplace and the Granite Advantage Program. This pandemic has exposed just how important it is to have health insurance that covers comprehensive care for individuals and families. Sign up now – it matters!”
Rep. Chris Pappas, the representative of New Hampshire’s 1st District and a long-time advocate for affordable health care, said “Starting November 1st, New Hampshire residents can log on to HealthCare.gov, fill out an application, and enroll in a 2021 Marketplace health plan. Access to quality, affordable health care could not be more important as we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and I encourage Granite Staters to take this opportunity to explore the health care coverage options that are best for themselves and their families.”
The upcoming open enrollment period marks the first time those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic - including those who lost their jobs and their employer-based health insurance - can get affordable coverage for themselves and their families. In the middle of a national health emergency, it’s vital that Granite Staters have the opportunity to enroll in affordable, reliable health care for the upcoming year.
Nearly 104,000 Granite Staters get their health care through the Affordable Care Act, and another 571,300 Granite Staters living with pre-existing conditions rely on the ACA for critical protections. The law covers a broad range of everyday preventative care, including lab tests to diagnose diseases, maternity and newborn care, and dental and vision coverage for children In addition, parents are allowed to add their children up to age 26 to their plans.
Covering New Hampshire, a project of Granite State Progress Education Fund and the NH Health Care Coalition in collaboration with the New Hampshire Health Plan, is a statewide effort to ensure Granite Staters know the options available under the Affordable Care Act. Covering NH works with local health care providers and advocacy groups to fill the gaps and bolster enrollment in New Hampshire despite the cuts to open enrollment publicity and assistance. https://coveringnewhampshire.org/