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HIX Pains Now, But Hope for Long-Term Relief in NH

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media, January 29, 2014

Feldvebel said Anthem held about 90 percent of the individual health plan policies in the state before this year. "It's typical in a state with a small population that one or two players constitute the whole market (for individual policies)," he said. "There aren't enough lives out there to sustain more than one or two players."

The state Insurance Department thoroughly vetted Anthem Pathway to make sure the narrow network followed state and federal law, Feldvebel said. "Our role was to review the filings," he said. "And we did that, and the adequacy standards were met."

State Sen. Nancy Stiles, (R-Hampton), said Anthem had several advantages over potential competitors when New Hampshire was launching its health insurance exchange, including a longstanding and broad presence in the state. "They were familiar with the process," she said.

Stiles, who has taken a leading healthcare reform role in the Republican-controlled Senate, said she also wasn't surprised when Anthem emerged as the only company offering a health insurance exchange product in 2014. "The single player in the market was pretty much set up from the beginning," she said. "We are getting to a point where we can move forward."

Boosting the Marketplace
Stiles, Feldvebel, and Sherman are all optimistic that New Hampshire can expand the range of options available to individuals who purchase a health insurance exchange plan beginning next year.

"I'm very hopeful," Feldvebel said. "The real solution to this issue isn't to have nationalization of Anthem; it's to increase competition in the marketplace."

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