CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - More than 80 percent of the New Hampshire residents who have signed up for health plans through the new federal insurance marketplace were new customers to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the company's president said Friday.
Anthem is both the dominant player in New Hampshire's individual insurance market and the only company selling health plans under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law.
Company president Lisa Guertin told the state's Health Exchange Advisory Board on Friday that more than 35,000 of the 40,262 people who picked a plan during the first open enrollment period did not previously have Anthem plans. That suggests that a significant number of them were previously uninsured, given that Anthem had 90 percent of the individual market before the health overhaul law took effect.
Guertin also said nearly 90 percent have paid their premiums, higher than the 80 to 85 percent the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association has reported nationally.
Republicans, in an attempt to undermine the Obama administration's claims that the Affordable Care Act has proven itself a success, have seized on a recent report that found that as of mid-April, only 67 percent of people who had signed up for health plans actually had paid their first month's premiums. But top health insurance companies told members of Congress on Wednesday that more than 80 percent have gone on to pay their premiums.
At least two additional companies are expected to begin offering health plans for 2015 in New Hampshire. Insurance department officials told the advisory board that they have received preliminary applications, with detailed applications including rates and proposed provider networks due June 1.
Anthem has been criticized for excluding 10 of the state's 26 hospitals from its provider network, and the insurance department is holding a hearing next week on a complaint filed by a patient at one of the excluded hospitals. The department plans to hold two public informational sessions by June 15 to provide more transparency about the newly proposed networks.
"It's starting to develop that carriers will be competing based on their networks more than they have in the past, so for the public to have information early on about what the networks look like from the various players would be useful," said deputy Insurance Commissioner Alex Feldvebel.
The next open enrollment period starts Nov. 15.