N.H. recommends plans for health insurance exchanges

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - As New Hampshire moves toward implementing the federal health care overhaul law, the federal government is deciding which insurance plans are qualified for sale in the state.

Under the overhaul law, new insurance marketplaces will offer individuals and their families a choice of private health plans resembling what workers at major companies already get. The government will help many middle-class households pay their premiums, while low-income people will be referred to safety net programs they might qualify for. Enrollment starts Oct. 1 with coverage taking effect Jan. 1. After that, virtually everyone in the country will be required by law to have health insurance or face fines.

The state Insurance Department this week submitted its recommendations for which plans should be offered in the new online insurance markets, or exchanges. The details and rates aren't being made public yet, but Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny said he's confident consumers will have good options when enrollment opens Oct. 1.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has said it is the only company planning to offer health insurance plans in New Hampshire.

While the last Legislature passed a law prohibiting the state from setting up its own exchanges, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan decided in February to have the state partner with the federal government to manage the health plans and to provide consumer assistance. The decision by the first-term Democrat didn't sit well with Republicans, who have blocked or slowed several efforts to implement the federal law.

The final decision on whether the plans are qualified for sale will be made by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


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