EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

March 17, 2013

Survey: Few in NH know about new health markets

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — As New Hampshire prepares for the new insurance markets required under the federal health care overhaul, a recent survey highlights how little residents agree on or even know about the looming changes.

New Hampshire Voices for Health — a network of more than 40 organizations that advocates for affordable, quality health care — hired an independent consultant to design and administer an online survey seeking input on how the marketplace should operate in New Hampshire.

State insurance and health and human service officials helped develop the questions. The survey was distributed in late January to industry associations and advocacy groups representing health care providers, insurers, consumers and businesses, with requests that it be shared widely both within and outside each organization.

By the time the survey ended early this week, 648 people had responded, according to results provided to The Associated Press. And while the survey was unscientific, its findings suggest that much work remains to be done to inform and educate businesses about the health insurance marketplaces, which will offer consumers one-stop shopping along the lines of Amazon.com.

“Those who live in this bubble of hearing about the marketplace all the time forget that the vast majority of the people in the state know very little about it,” said Lisa Kaplan Howe, policy director at Voices for Health. “Those of us who’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it can envision it, but otherwise you’re talking about something very amorphous.”

Under the new health care law, middle class people will be eligible for tax credits to help pay for private insurance plans, while low-income people will be steered to safety-net programs such as Medicaid. Enrollment begins Oct. 1 for coverage that takes effect Jan. 1, the day when a mandate that nearly all Americans carry health insurance kicks in.

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