Individual Open-Enrollment 2018: Market Update

Open enrollment for individual health insurance for 2018 is less than 3 months away from commencing, as it will begin on November 1. This is the first of a series of blogs our office will be posting as we get closer to November 1 in preparation for the Open Enrollment period, November 1, 2017 until December 15, 2017. As you may notice, this is only 45 days including weekends and Thanksgiving. This is the shortest open enrollment period since the creation of The Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare. As you can see, time will be the essence. As we communicate to you further in the coming weeks, we will be urging you to be prepared to enroll on, or very close to the first day possible, November 1. The window is very narrow this year, and there could be a lot of chaos and confusion in the marketplace for reasons that I am about to explain further.

The Trump administration and many of the Republicans in Congress want to end the Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare, for this reason there is a lot of uncertainty regarding how subsidies and cost-sharing payments will be handled in 2018. As a result of this uncertainty, it is possible that some or all of the insurance companies doing business in New Hampshire will either have significant rate increases for 2018, or perhaps even cease doing business in New Hampshire in 2018. There is no guarantee as of this time if either Anthem or Harvard Pilgrim will have plans available for the individual NH market, and even if they do, what their rates are going to look like. Lastly, there could be significant changes in the networks of the plans that are offered in New Hampshire. There may be little, if any access to Massachusetts doctors and hospitals, unlike today. The State of New Hampshire Department of Insurance has recognized all of these negative possibilities, and has been trying to come up with a plan to entice/keep insurance companies offering plans to individuals in NH in 2018, but there remains much uncertainty about their ability to do so, as the legislature has refused to allow them to use an approach they proposed. Following that legislative showdown, the insurance department announced that rates could increase an average of about 40% in 2018, and the likelihood that only two (or less) companies will be in the marketplace next year. The bottom line is that we will be posting regularly because you must be prepared to act quickly in this uncertain and tumultuous market.

As you consider and prepare for open-enrollment 2018, it is important to remember the NPN #. This is the National Producer Number (NPN) which connects your policy to our agency. This way, we can answer question for you and service your policy as needed throughout the year. When you apply, always indicate you are working with your broker, Raymond White, and/or input my NPN broker code, which is 68433.

We will be back soon with more valuable information about the 2018 open enrollment process and the health insurance landscape for individual health insurance in New Hampshire.