The federal government has published information on proposed rates for New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange (HealthCare.gov) in 2019.
The New Hampshire Insurance Department looks at premiums each year from a market-wide perspective, comparing the median premium for an on-exchange silver-level plan covering a 40-year-old non-tobacco-user. For 2018, the median premium at this level was $504; the median premium at this level for 2019 would be $470, based on the carriers’ proposed rates. If these rates are ultimately approved, this would represent a 6.75 percent decrease between next year’s and this year’s median premium in the individual market.
Modest decrease forecast
“Despite uncertainty at the federal level, a modest decrease in premium rates for New Hampshire residents is a move in the right direction,” said Insurance Commissioner John Elias. “Rates are still high, particularly for NH residents who do not qualify for premium assistance, but we will continue to work collaboratively with insurance companies and pursue other efforts to improve market stability in New Hampshire.”
The 2019 rate information released by the federal government details proposed increases to benefit plans that are submitted by insurance companies operating on HealthCare.gov. The New Hampshire Insurance Department is prohibited by law from releasing rate information until Nov. 1, the first day of open enrollment. A benefit plan is a specific plan that a New Hampshire resident would select for enrollment, such as a bronze, silver, or gold level metal plan.
Insurers to include Ambetter, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim
Three companies have filed rates with the intention to offer products on the exchange in 2019 for New Hampshire: Ambetter, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim. The companies have until Sept. 25 to commit to selling plans on HealthCare.gov for the 2019 plan year.
“While other states are seeing the further collapse of their individual market, New Hampshire providers are anticipating a 6.75 percent decrease in the cost of premiums,” stated Governor Chris Sununu. “This is a stark contrast to last year’s premium increase of over 50 percent and is due to our commitment to working with the industry to drive down premiums and make necessary changes to deliver real savings for the people of our state.”
Reduction due to state efforts to stabilize and preserve individual market
These positive trends are the result of a rigorous effort to stabilize and preserve New Hampshire’s individual market. This includes: moving the Medicaid Expansion population to the state’s managed care delivery system rather than the current Premium Assistance Program; providing flexibility in filing deadlines; authorizing the NH Insurance Department and the NH Department of Health and Human Services to pursue any waiver opportunities; strong advocacy of funding the Cost Savings Reduction (CSR) payments; and a commitment to do to providing certainty at the state level.
Shea-Porter criticized Sununu and Congress for 52 percent rise last year, cut to Navigator program, and “junk insurance” that doesn’t cover preexisting conditions
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter worked to pass the Affordable Care Act. She had this to say about the new report on the proposed rates for 2019:
“A small decrease in premiums this year doesn’t erase the damage that Congressional Republicans with Governor Sununu’s vocal support have inflicted on thousands of Granite Staters through their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, an effort that caused premiums to rise 52 percent on average last year in New Hampshire. When the bill failed, the administration got to work sabotaging health care markets. They have slashed funding for the Navigator Program, which helps people enroll in affordable coverage, and they have now allowed junk insurance that doesn’t cover preexisting conditions or much at all.
“On May 5 of last year in an article titled Sununu says he’s happy Obamacare repeal is moving forward, the Concord Monitor reported that Governor Sununu said, ‘I love the idea that Congress is taking action, the president is taking action…I think most people understand that Obamacare does need to be repealed.’ He has also said that the federal government should not require insurance companies to cover substance use treatment and mental health services. A few days later, NH1 reported that he said, ‘moving the ball forward is for us a huge win.’ It’s clear that Governor Sununu has failed to stand up to the Washington Republicans that are driving up health care costs.
“Given the Governor’s history, and the track record of Congressional Republicans, it’s inappropriate for the governor to take a bow for a slight reduction to the costs he helped drive up. While this announcement is disappointing to those seeking to truly lower the cost of health care, I urge all Granite Staters who buy insurance on the individual market to visit healthcare.gov to see if they are eligible for financial help this year to offset the cost of premiums, the same financial help Governor Sununu tried to cut significantly with his rejection of the ACA.”
The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.