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September 26, 2013

Study: Insurance costs cheaper than expected

(Continued)

She cautions the federal study isn’t truly an apples-to-apples comparison, because consumers will have new benefits such as maternity and mental health coverage.

Moore also noted some hospitals, including Derry’s Parkland Medical Center, are shut out of the New Hampshire network, which has consquences for consumers.

“This means that many people in the Greater Derry area will lose access to their doctors, and that will have real consequences for many individuals who have built up strong relationships with their physicians,” he said.

But Rice-Hawkins sees improvements coming.

“New Hampshire’s health insurance market can only become stronger as more competition is introduced,” she said.

The Affordable Care Act aims to deliver insurance to people who lack it. But the existence of new insurance exchanges under the act has some national firms terminating their own plans.

The release of the federal study not only coincides with the upcoming enrollment, but also efforts by some Republicans to block funding in Congress as a condition for resolving budget differences.

“I’ve learned it’s not a good idea to make predictions about what happens in Washington,” Moore said, “but my guess is that ‘Obamacare’ will survive the immediate defunding challenge, only to fall under the weight of its own poor design.”

Polls are showing the law is increasingly unpopular as it moves into implementation, he said.

“The issue will become a referendum in future elections and the public will have its voice heard,” Moore said.

Rice-Hawkins expects Republican opponents will pay the price, not supporters of the Affordable Care Act.

“We’ve come too far with health reform, and seen too many good things come from it, to put it back on the chopping block so some politician can score political points,” she said.

In New Hampshire and other states, meanwhile, efforts are underway to educate consumers about their options under the new law.

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