Federal Government Announces 2020 Premium Rates

CONCORD, NH – The federal government has published information on proposed rates for New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange (HealthCare.gov) in 2020.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department looks at premiums each year from a market-wide perspective, comparing the median premium for an on-exchange silver-level plan covering a 40-year-old non-tobacco-user. For 2019, the median premium at this level was $440; the median premium at this level for 2020 would be $429, based on the carriers’ proposed rates. If these rates are ultimately approved, this would represent a 2.5% decrease between next year’s and this year’s median premium in the individual market.
“New Hampshire has had two consecutive years of modest premium rate decreases,” said Insurance Commissioner John Elias. “Rates are still high, particularly for NH residents who do not qualify for premium assistance, and we are continuing to work collaboratively with insurance companies and policymakers to pursue other efforts to improve health insurance markets in New Hampshire.”

The 2020 rate information released by the federal government details proposed annual rate changes for benefit plans that are submitted by insurance companies operating on HealthCare.gov. The New Hampshire Insurance Department is prohibited by law from releasing rate information until Nov. 1, the first day of open enrollment. A benefit plan is a specific plan that a New Hampshire resident would select for enrollment, such as a bronze, silver, or gold level metal plan.

“I am pleased to see that New Hampshire insurance companies are anticipating a decrease in the cost of premiums for the second year in a row,” stated Governor Chris Sununu. “This is a stark contrast to previous year’s premium increases and is due to our commitment to working with the insurance companies to decrease premiums and deliver real savings for the people of our state.”

Three companies have filed rates with the intention to offer products the exchange in 2020 for New Hampshire: Ambetter, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim. The companies have until Sept. 24 to commit to selling plans on HealthCare.gov for the 2020 plan year.

The Department advises consumers that the only way to receive an accurate premium rate amount is to update your application on HealthCare.gov each year. The amount of premium assistance you may qualify for changes each year depending on your age, financial status, and household size. An insurance agent or enrollment assister can help you update your application.
The New Hampshire Insurance Department Can Help
The New Hampshire Insurance Department can help you with questions or concerns about your existing coverage. To speak to a member of the Consumer Services Department, call (800) 852-3416, (603) 271- 2261 or email consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit http://www.nh.gov/insurance.

Media Contact:
Eireann Aspell Sibley
Communications Director
Office: 603-271-3781

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State Budget – Dangerous Deal

Those of you who have had to sit through a hearing with me have my heard my rant about keeping it simple. If it takes an accountant and a tax attorney to explain what we did to you, we did it wrong. The state budget writers did it wrong. They included enough stuff that you want to make you want the budget. Unfortunately, this is like those high risk mortgages that collapsed the housing market. It will seem wonderful at first, probably past the next election, and then it will collapse. You won’t have that stuff that you wanted, and you will have a giant bill… just like all those victims who had their property foreclosed.

Weyler: HB 1 “Minority Report”

In the last ten budgets, it was unusual to see a large increase in the revenue from one biennium to another. Most of the time it was about 200 million increase, unless there had been tax increases. Then it might be more. The revenue we are seeing available from the last budget is a one-billion-dollar increase. That is after a tax decrease! The people who do the revenue estimates are all saying this is likely a one-time event driven by repatriation with an 8% Federal Tax. All are predicting revenue will decrease after 2021. This is a wonderful opportunity to do some one-time projects and still allow for some increases where needed in state government. This budget does not follow that sensible approach. Instead it uses all the money to grow government to a level where it cannot be sustained in future. With the growth of government comes a reduction in our population’s freedom, and likely increases in future taxes. It gives big increases to education and does not recognize that school districts need to make decisions that reflect the reality of major declines in enrollment. As the adequacy payments go down with the shrinking student counts, districts need to adjust. The evidence is that they are not, but are instead insisting on more state money. This will be followed by higher property taxes. This budget leads us in the wrong direction.

Weyler: HB 2 “Minority Report”

Since HB 1 by law, can only contain the budget numbers, HB 2 is the device by which the enabling legislation is included. This could mean tax changes, reassignments of personnel, department reorganizations, and descriptions of new programs created in the budget. Unfortunately, there is always room for abuses. So, bills that were retained, or amended, sometimes find new life in this bill. The greatest abuse is to add programs which did not have any public hearing in either body, and may be a last-minute idea by one of the conferees. A very controversial “Pet Vendor licensing” was added with little public hearing, as was the tax on vaping as well as adding the 21-age requirement. The wish to add more money for public education does not seem to recognize that this demographic is shrinking, while the elderly population is growing. Areas where the money was taken from to increase Education funding by 45 million dollars, show the bias of the Democrats. The rate increase for Public Charter School Students of 2.5 million was repurposed for regular public education; and the Secretary of States 1.5 million in “Investor Education Funds” which was destined for the FRM Settlement, was included in that 45 million. The 45 also included a highway project, and a trooper reallocation money. Although we keep hearing the basic adequacy number of $3,636 per pupil, the real average contribution, with all the differentiated aid is about $6,000 per pupil. HB 2 started with a little over 200 sections, and ends with well over 400. It is difficult to track all the changes, and perhaps that is by design.


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Why HB365 raises your electric bill

This explanation comes from Rep. Fred Plett

There is no cap on the ability build a generator of any size and selling the output, albeit at wholesale. The net metering bill raises the current cap from 1 to 5 MW of the ability, not to sell at wholesale, but the ability to sell to the local utility at retail, roughly 3 times the price. The proponents claim that selling at retail rather than wholesale, reduces electric bills. Their logic is that the amounts sold to the utility at retail will be treated not as generation, but as a load reducer, so when the utility goes out to bid for default service for the remainder, the load serving entities will play nice since they are under competitive pressure so the rate per kWh the LSE bids won’t go up, and the kWh are smaller, so the extra amounts paid to the net metered generation comes out of the hides of the LSE’s. The problem with that logic is that LSE’s are smart, they’ve got certain costs to cover, and they will cover them by raising bids per kWh, even if the load profile were the same. Furthermore, since the remaining load profile is much spikier due to the vagaries of wind and solar, bids will go up for that reason as well. Nothing comes for free. There is 40 MW of hydro (each unit under 5 MW), now selling wholesale, that will de-list from the wholesale market and sell retail instead. Since they are not bidding into the wholesale market as a price taker (bottom of stack), the clearing price for every hour in the day ahead market could be higher, raising wholesale rates, which then get tripled to retail levels. The proponents also argue that the NH load profile as a percentage of New England’s will be smaller, shifting the payment for transmission to other states. If other states do the same, it becomes a zero sum game, and no costs will be shifted, and since the costs are still there, the rate per kWh will go up to raise the same $$. I heard an argument from a proponent that distribution costs will also go down. False. The distribution costs are still there, charged against fewer kWh, so the rate per kWh goes up, paid for by all load not having net metering – i.e., you. The last argument proponents make is that if a municipal or county does this, tax bills could go down. True enough, but by the logic enumerated above, the savings will be paid for by non-participating rate payers.

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