MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Tuesday, Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH) convened a virtual roundtable of local healthcare experts and advocates to discuss the new special open enrollment period for federal health insurance marketplace, also known as healthcare.gov.
Last March, Pappas joined with over 100 lawmakers urging then-Secretary Alex Azar to utilize his authority to establish a special enrollment period for patients to seek Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. President Biden heeded those calls in January and signed an executive order, to open up the federal health insurance marketplace for three months starting Monday so uninsured people can buy a plan and those who want to change their marketplace coverage can do so.
The roundtable, moderated by Granite State Progress Founding Executive Director Zandra Rice-Hawkins, sought to provide additional information on the special enrollment period as well as provide an opportunity to remind Granite Staters that they have another opportunity to purchase health insurance through the marketplace.
With the upheaval surrounding COVID-19, NH Marketplace Navigator Jeremy Smith said that November’s open enrollment period held challenges not seen in recent times regarding education about the ACA
“(2020) felt a lot like the first year (of the Marketplace),” said Smith. “We’re out there and trying to find people that don’t know about the ACA. There’s just been so many people affected by the pandemic, losing their insurance and their jobs and a big portion of these people have never had to buy insurance before or didn’t know anything about the ACA.”
Smith says that he’s heard from consumers saying that they missed the first enrollment period due to various reasons. Rice-Hawkins noted that one of the key reasons was the economic impact of the pandemic making it difficult for individuals and families to project what they could afford on health insurance in upcoming months.
“I do think there were a lot of people in transition at the end of the year, especially as they were making decisions on what they could afford with what was often challenging family dynamics going on.” “During a traditional enrollment period, we do see some shifting as people as people look for a different network or plan for things they’ve had time to consider. So, we’ll have to see what that looks like, but we’re encouraging everyone to relook at their options.”
Rice-Hawkins encouraged everyone, even those who purchased plans last year to take a look at the Marketplace another time just in case to see if there is a plan that better fits their needs in the upcoming year. Pappas echoed that sentiment, also sharing Rice-Hawkins’ view that this special open enrollment period provides much needed support to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The duration of this period is important because this continues to be a period of great financial insecurity for our families,” said Pappas. “There are a lot of dynamics that are shifting on a regular basis here, so this provides an opportunity. Someone may feel secure in terms of their health insurance today or what their job picture looks like, but that could change in the upcoming weeks and that’s the unfortunate reality people faced during this pandemic.”
New Hampshire residents to purchase an Affordable Healthcare Act-compliant healthcare plan from one of the three providers in the state: Anthem, Harvard-Pilgrim and Ambetter from NH Healthy Families.
Other health insurance plans are available in the state, New Hampshire Insurance Department Consumer Outreach Coordinator Tiffany Fuller said during the call that consumers should thoroughly investigate plans and exercise caution.
New Hampshire residents with questions on the Marketplace can find assistance at the New Hampshire ACA Navigator website or call an ACA Navigator at 603-931-3858 or 1-877-211-6284.