Through the Health Insurance Marketplace you will be able to apply, compare options and find out if you are eligible for lower costs on premiums or able to get free or low-cost coverage – similar to last year. However, there are some major changes to the Health Insurance Marketplace that have resulted in a more competitive arena and, ultimately, more choices for the consumer. First, there will be five different insurance carriers for the year 2015. Second, 2015 will bring sixty-one plans to choose from. This year, many members of the community found their hospital “out-of-network;” in 2015, all twenty-six of New Hampshire’s hospitals will be covered by at least two of the plans.
All 2014 Marketplace plans will come up for renewal in 2015. You may find that there is a plan better suited to meet your needs in this year’s Marketplace, regardless of whether or not you feel satisfied with your current plan. Before you renew your plan, go to Healthcare.gov and explore the many options available to you; the new insurance carriers will have Bronze, Silver and Gold plans for you to compare. If after perusing you decide to keep your current plan and have had no income or household size changes, you may not need to do anything additional! Your insurance company will send you renewal information specific to your personal account. If you have had a change in circumstance, you will need to report that to the Marketplace to see if your change will affect costs and deductions.
The Health Insurance Marketplace will continue to offer premium tax credits to help reduce the monthly insurance premiums. The amount of the credit is calculated based on your income and household size; it can either be deducted from your monthly premium, making insurance more affordable, or received when you file your income tax return. It is your choice! Additionally, your income and household may qualify you for reduced out-of-pocket expenses like co-payments, deductibles and co-insurance.
Everyone, regardless of their current insurance status, should explore the various options offered on Healthcare.gov; you may be surprised to learn what is available as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA resulted in the formation of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which provides health care insurance to approximately 50,000 families and individuals in New Hampshire who were not eligible for this service prior. By using Healthcare.gov or nheasy.nh.gov, you can easily find out if you are eligible for free insurance in the new program.
Healthcare.gov and nheasy.nh.gov contain a substantial amount of information; start familiarizing yourself as early as possible to reduce any stress you may feel when the time comes to enroll. Visit the websites, explore their layouts and highlighted links – there is a wealth of information and tools that will better prepare you to make educated decisions. If you have any questions or concerns, the call center at Healthcare.gov is free and always available at 1-800-318-2596. If you feel unsure about beginning the process alone or don’t have easy access to the internet, Mid-State Health Center is offering free, one-on-one Marketplace assistance at both their Plymouth and Bristol offices for everyone in the community; please call 603-536-4000 Ext. 1450 to get started. Between November 17th and February 15th, Marketplace Assisters will be available to offer education and enrollment assistance including help navigating healthcare.gov
Whichever way is most convenient and comfortable for you, do some window shopping. Get a head start by creating an account on Healthcare.gov now so the only thing left to do during open enrollment (November 15th 2014 to February 15th 2015) will be to select a plan. Let health insurance and the security it provides be your gift to yourself and your family; have a safe, happy and healthy holiday season!