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NH Healthy Families to keep Ambetter plan on Obamacare exchange

State House Bureau

August 10. 2017 10:46AM

CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu has been pushing the three remaining health insurance companies on the Obamacare exchange in New Hampshire to indicate their intentions for 2018, and one of the three has confirmed that it will offer policies on when open enrollment begins in November.

NH Healthy Families announced on Thursday its decision to continue offering its health insurance marketplace product, Ambetter, in New Hampshire for 2018.

"We remain committed to working closely with the governor, Insurance Department and the Legislature to collaborate on actions that stabilize the market and offer affordable statewide coverage options for New Hampshire consumers," said Jennifer Weigand, president and chief executive officer of NH Healthy Families.

Meanwhile, the two remaining insurers in the state — Anthem and Harvard Pilgrim — said they filed proposed rates with the state Department of Insurance by Thursday, the deadline for doing so.

But they do not have to make a final decision until Sept. 27.

"We will make our decision on or before that date," said Joan Fallon, a spokesman for Harvard Pilgrim.

Such statements continue the uncertainty in the health insurance market connected to the Obamacare exchange.

Ambetter has focused almost exclusively on policies through expanded Medicaid under the N.H. Health Protection Program. New Hampshire people who use expanded Medicaid sign up for it on the exchange, and the state uses federal Medicaid money to pay their premiums.

The company had 17,766 Granite State customers on the exchange in July, and all but 112 were paid by Medicaid.

The biggest players on the New Hampshire exchange in 2017 when it comes to non-Medicaid customers are Minuteman (23,611 members); Anthem (26,665 members) and Harvard-Pilgrim (20,296).

Minuteman already has withdrawn from the market for 2018 as it reorganizes under receivership in Massachusetts.

Although they filed rates, Harvard-Pilgrim and Anthem have not committed to the market.

"We do have rates on all the carriers, but that decision of staying in market doesn't become final until they sign contracts in September," said Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny.

Carriers have to sign a contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to be on the exchange by Sept. 27.

Nonetheless, Sevigny said he is optimistic by the rate filings the department has seen so far.

"It's very encouraging to see them. I know for at least one of the carriers we got updated rates today. Those are very encouraging signs."

Anthem spokesman Colin Manning noted that Anthem's rates are under review by the Insurance Department. But the company did not commit to staying for 2018.

"We continue to work with, and have discussions with the department and look forward to continuing the regulatory process," he said.

Sununu took advantage of the opportunity to restate his call to the Trump administration to come through with payments to the insurance companies to mitigate their losses — payments the President has threatened to withhold.

"Today's announcement by Ambetter is very welcome news and is a result of a rigorous effort to stabilize and preserve New Hampshire's individual market until Obamacare is reformed," Sununu said in a statement. "As I have previously stated, my administration has been engaged in an intensive and productive dialogue with our insurers to do whatever we can to keep them in New Hampshire's individual market. This includes … strong advocacy of Cost Savings Reduction (CSR) payments."

" We continue to await official word from our state's two largest insurers, Anthem and Harvard-Pilgrim, and we will continue working to help ensure that New Hampshire has a competitive market place," he said.; Union Leader reporter Mark Hayward contributed to this article.

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