No Need for Concern on Anthem

News Affects Only Those Who Would Be Insured Through Upcoming Marketplace Plan

Late yesterday and earlier today, news broke about Anthem’s decision to include only 14 NH hospitals in health insurance plans that will be offered through NH’s Marketplace (formerly known as the “Exchange” component of the Affordable Care Act). This change is expected to affect only individuals who do not have health insurance through their employer and purchase it individually from Anthem.  This does not affect most state, county, and municipal workers represented by the SEA.

Beginning October 1, many individuals who have not had access to health insurance will be able to select health plan options through the Marketplace.  The Marketplace is intended to be a central place (online) where you can compare all the options available in your area. You can compare plans based on price, benefits, quality, location, and other features important to you before you make a choice.

At this time, Anthem is the only NH provider that has opted to participate in the NH Marketplace. However, it is expected that in time, other providers will participate, leading to more competition that may better serve consumers.  Although the news has prompted some negative comments from the general public, SEA President, Diana Lacey, has confirmed that this news will not directly impact SEA members.

“Although Anthem is offering a limited network for the Marketplace product they are implementing, I think it is still a bold first step and I commend Anthem for stepping up to the plate and making an offering,” Lacey said. “The uninsured and individually insured populations in NH have struggled to secure affordable health care for decades.  Their struggles became our struggles as the price of health care skyrocketed out of control.  With at least one plan being offered in the Marketplace, we will not only see more people accessing healthcare and becoming more healthy, we will see uncompensated care costs go down at every hospital – even those not in the Anthem Marketplace product.  That should have a ripple effect benefit on the rest of Anthem’s insured business – including those SEA members with employer sponsored Anthem insurance.”

The Anthem Marketplace product will hopefully not be the only option out there for long.

“I remember when HMOs first were introduced to state employees,” Lacey said. “We were offered three products and I chose the one that had a network that was best for my family.  I am hopeful that Anthem, which may initially be seen by some insurers as the sole swimmer to dip their toes in the water of the Marketplace, will soon be joined by the other insurers in the state that may offer other network capacity too.”

We will bring you more information about this in the coming weeks. Also, due to the confusion this has caused, Anthem will be issuing a follow-up news release to try to clarify things.

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