The Affordable Care Act has been around for almost a decade, but this year’s open enrollment period, which begins November 1, is a class of its own.
On the one hand, the possibility that the Supreme Court will overturn all or part of Obamacare now that it has an overwhelming Conservative majority following the swift appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. But even if that doesn’t happen, the economic fallout from COVID-19 has cut employer-provided health insurance for people out of work, forcing a whole new group of people to make decisions.
“I think this year is going to be different because thousands of people have lost their jobs and the coverage that came with their jobs. We have a whole new batch of people who will be buying health insurance this year, ”said Jeremy Smith, director of the federally funded Navigator program in New Hampshire. The Navigator program provides free trained guides to help people understand the insurance market, accessible through ACAnavigator.com.
Free help is also available by calling 1-877-211-NAVI or visiting localhelp.healthcare.gov.
In an online discussion Thursday, Smith drew parallels with ACA’s early years when he said there was a real “sense of urgency” in explaining the new concept to people.
“This will be one of the most important open registrations since the very beginning,” he said. thanks to my work. There is affordable coverage available in the market.
From the launch of Obamacare, which took place in 2010 and started a few years later, we realized that clear and objective information was needed.
“Nothing we have been able to achieve makes health insurance completely easy. But you have options, the key is to get people to help you navigate your way, ”UNH Law School Professor Lucy Hodder said in Thursday’s discussion.
About 104,000 New Hampshire residents have health insurance through the federal market or the Medicaid expansion, according to the presentation. While Medicaid allows year-round enrollment through the Granite Advantage program, enrollment in ACA insurance must take place between November 1 and December 15. The registration period used to be longer, but President Donald Trump, a staunch opponent of Obamacare, has reduced it.
As has been the case for several years, three companies offer different levels of health insurance in the federal market: Anthem, Harvard-Pilgrim and Ambetter, offered through New Hampshire Healthy Families.
All of them have reduced their premiums this year by as much as 15%, although the actual costs depend on a multitude of factors.
A number of grants are available. According to the presentation, about three-quarters of New Hampshire residents who purchase insurance in the federal market have some form of assistance that lowers their premium.
Even people who already have health insurance with the ACA should log in and update their application, said Chris Nicolopoulos, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Insurance.
“Even if you like the plan, the benefits and the networks change from year to year,” he said. “The best way to determine monthly premiums is to update” your request.
ACA covers people with pre-existing conditions. It also covers laboratory tests to diagnose diseases; maternity and newborn care, and dental and vision care for children. Parents can add their children up to 26 years old to their plans.
(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or [email protected] or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)