EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 14, 2013

Insurance exchange numbers growing in N.H.

Some people are still frustrated by New Hampshire’s new health insurance exchange, even as more check it out and sign up for coverage.

But the program is starting to get positive reviews from other consumers.

Helena Day, a former Derry resident who now lives in Manchester, said her new policy cuts her monthly expense nearly in half to $360, reduces her deductible from $10,000 to $2,500 and provides her with dental coverage for the first time in years.

“I’m one of the winners in this,” said Day, a recent widow.

The state’s Health Exchange Advisory Board, meeting yesterday, acknowledged more people have been able to apply online via healthcare.gov under the Affordable Care Act.

Earlier this week, federal Health and Human Services officials released a report showing 1,300 New Hampshire residents selected an insurance plan last month, up from just 269 in October, the first month when technical problems inhibited consumers.

“The website was a pain in the butt. It was so slow,” said Cheryl Atkinson, a mother from Derry, recalling her first experience this fall. “It took five minutes just to get to the next page.”

Later, when she was able to work through the system, the results disappointed.

One plan would have cost $220 a month, another $150, she said.

“I almost fell off my seat, if they call that affordable,” Atkinson said.

She wondered how to swing that expense amid housing, utility and food expenses.

At least Atkinson could get to the numbers.

Cheryl Lane of Derry has tried unsuccessfully for two months to get that far.

Lane also is a single mother, engaged to be married.

“I keep getting error codes or having to re-enter all the information for my seven family members,” she said. “It’s ridiculous and the support people have no idea what they are doing.”

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