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June 02. 2014 8:52PM

More insurers to join NH exchange

CONCORD — New Hampshire residents shopping for health insurance at the Obamacare exchange on healthcare.gov will have at least five companies to choose from for coverage in 2015, compared to only one company this year.

Anthem was the sole company to offer health insurance packages on the exchange when it opened in October for coverage starting in January 2014.Since then, Minuteman Health and Harvard-Pilgrim Health Care, both based in Massachusetts, have indicated that they will be offering products for coverage starting in January 2015.

The state Insurance Department announced on Monday that two other companies plan to offer products to New Hampshire consumers — Maine Community Health Options and Assurant Health.Both announced plans to offer the broadest possible provider network. Anthem’s narrow network has been criticized for excluding too many of the state’s hospitals.Maine Community Health Options, established in 2011 in Lewiston, Maine, plans to introduce its products in four New Hampshire counties at first — Rockingham, Strafford, Carroll and Coos — with plans to expand later in the year.

Assurant Health, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., has been in business since 1892. The company was already licensed in 41 states, including New Hampshire, but did not offer plans on the New Hampshire exchange this year.

“New Hampshire residents have asked for options,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “In 2015, they will have five insurance companies to choose from, as well as a variety of plans and networks. It’s all about choice — choice of carriers, choice of plans, and choice of provider networks. Choice is good for consumers and good for competition.”

Consumers will be able to compare plans on the online exchange during open enrollment for 2015, which begins Nov. 15. The Insurance Department has until Aug. 7 to review all the proposed plans and recommend them for approval to the federal government.

Minuteman and Maine Community Health Options are both set up as co-operative insurance companies, meaning they will be owned by the policyholders.According to the Portland Press Herald, Maine Community Health Options has captured 80 percent of the Maine market for individual health insurance on the exchange, and has been lauded nationally as a success story by industry experts.

“Today’s announcement that two additional carriers plan to offer coverage on New Hampshire’s Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015 is fantastic news that will improve affordability and increase choices for all New Hampshire citizens,” said Gov. Maggie Hassan in a statement issued after the Insurance Department announcement.

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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