NHDP - ICYMI: NH outlines proposed insurance networks

ICYMI: AP- New Hampshire outlines proposed insurance networks
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Each New Hampshire hospital will be included in at least three of the provider networks available under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law next year, state insurance officials said Tuesday.

This year, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield was the only company selling plans through the new marketplace, and it was criticized for excluding 10 of the state's 26 acute-care hospitals. Next year, two other private insurance companies - Harvard Pilgrim and Assurant - and two cooperatives - Maine Community Health and Minuteman - are expected to begin offering plans.

All five insurers have submitted proposals to the state, which will accept public comments until July 8 and will make recommendations to the federal government by Aug. 10. Final approval will come in September, and enrollment will begin Nov. 15 for coverage that takes effect in January.

"This is a preview of what has been submitted to the department, and we have just started our review," Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny said. "It's a significant amount of work for us to look at all the plans that have been submitted, and the timeframe we have to do the work is fairly short."

If the proposals are approved, the number of plans available to New Hampshire individuals will increase from 14 to more than 50, insurance department attorney Jennifer Patterson said at a public information session. Some insurers are still negotiating with hospitals and expect to add new providers, but at least several plans will offer coverage at all 26 hospitals, she said.

All five insurers will offer individual policies, while all but Assurant also will offer small group plans.

Anthem's proposed network includes 17 New Hampshire hospitals, plus Maine Medical Center and Lahey Hospital in Massachusetts. Compared with its current network, it added Maine Medical Center, Androscoggin Valley Hospital, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and Valley Regional Hospital while dropping Elliot Hospital, Portsmouth Hospital and Littleton Hospital. Frisbie Hospital, which has been trying to challenge its exclusion this year, is among several others that remain off Anthem's list.

Assurant Health's network will include all but Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, while Harvard Pilgrim will have one network that includes a dozen hospitals and another that it hopes will include all 26; the company is still negotiating with Parkland Medical Center in Derry and Portsmouth Hospital.

Maine Community Health Options plans to contract with all 26 hospitals plus Maine Medical Center, but will only market its plans in four eastern counties to start. Minuteman Health's network will include 13 hospitals in Carroll, Coos, Grafton, Hillsborough, Strafford and Sullivan counties.

Another public information session will be held Thursday in Conway.