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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Report: Average monthly premium in NH under Obamacare is $100

New Hampshire residents who buy the silver plan, the most popular plan on the federal health-
insurance marketplace, paid on average $87 per month, after tax credits, according to a new report from the federal government.

The report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that 62 percent of New Hampshire enrollees who selected any type of plan from the federally operated marketplace with tax credits had premiums of $100 a month or less, and 38 percent of $50 a month or less after tax credits. ...

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New Hampshire residents who buy the silver plan, the most popular plan on the federal health-
insurance marketplace, paid on average $87 per month, after tax credits, according to a new report from the federal government.

The report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that 62 percent of New Hampshire enrollees who selected any type of plan from the federally operated marketplace with tax credits had premiums of $100 a month or less, and 38 percent of $50 a month or less after tax credits.

More than 40,000 people signed up for insurance through the system in the state, roughly twice the anticipated number, although it’s less than a third of the 150,000 people who were estimated to be without health insurance in New Hampshire when the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

Tax credits to lower the cost of premiums was an important selling point in so-called Obamacare.

The federal report said that on average, monthly premiums for New Hampshirites who selected plans with tax credits fell 74 percent after tax credits, dropping the cost of the average monthly premium from $390 to about $100 after tax credits across all plan types.

The report underscores one of the major arguments made by proponents of the new healthcare law: The importance of cost.

Sign up numbers were very low in the first few months of the program late last year, partly because of horrendous website issues with healthcare.gov, the main website for the problem, but also because of uncertainty about the benefits of signing up.

In March, as the deadline for buying insurance this year approached, advocates and organizers began discussing cost more directly: “It really is all about affordability,” said Karen Hicks, project manager for Covering New Hampshire, a statewide outreach program for the health insurance law.

Tax credits are only available for plans bought through the federal markeplace.

The silver plan, roughly in the middle of options, was the most popular plan type, officials said.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services also has been touting the increased competition brought to health insurance by the Affordable Care Act, but that doesn’t apply to New Hampshire, where only Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield offered plans under ACA this year.

Things will change in 2015, when five companies will offer coverage in New Hampshire, according to the state insurance department.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of New England, Assurant Health, Maine Community Health Options and Minuteman Health, a
Massachusetts-based cooperative, will offer plans next year along with Anthem Blue Cross.

The open enrollment season for 2015 will start Nov. 15.

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010. It makes sweeping changes to health care, including requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, requiring insurance companies to pay for preventive care without patient cost and creating health insurance marketplaces through which people can buy insurance.

People can still buy insurance away from the marketplaces, but only marketplace plans are eligible for tax credits and subsidies from the federal government.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).