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Shaheen: Affordable Care Act ‘very much alive’

PORTSMOUTH -- Sen. Jeanne Shaheen joined health care center professionals at Families First Health and Support Center to spread the word about the approaching health care marketplace open enrollment period.

The Affordable Care Act sign-up period for 2018 insurance begins Nov. 1 and is open until Dec. 15, and this year’s enrollment includes two major changes. The first is the time period people can sign up. Having been cut six weeks from last year’s time frame, the group stressed the importance of people using health care center services beginning their 2018 enrollment.

“I’m concerned people don’t know,” Shaheen said of the open enrollment period, adding the ACA is still “very much alive” despite current political battles over it, and she asked the professionals gathered at the table to talk about what they can do to make more people aware.

Helen Taft, executive director of Families First Health and Support Center, said three years ago 55 percent of the center’s patients were uninsured and now it’s down to 22 percent uninsured. “So we know this is important,” Taft said. She said the system can create anxiety for people, and she also spoke about the other major change to this year’s enrollment: “Certain (insurance) plans have left the marketplace and many patients will need to enroll in another plan,” said Taft.

ACA’s insurance providers have decreased to three available providers this year, with Minuteman Health and Harvard Pilgrim’s NH Network no longer included in this year’s selection, the latter having been the broadest plan available in the past. AmBetter, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim’s ElevateHealth are the remaining options for 2018 in New Hampshire, with AmBetter now the broadest plan, servicing 25 of the state’s 26 hospital networks.

The group in attendance consisted of many certified application coordinators whose “goal is to help educate people so they can look at their health insurance options,” said Jayne Navarro, a certified application coordinator at Manchester Community Health Center. “We’re not limited to patients,” Navarro said. “We offer assistance to the community at large.”

“People support it, and they need help,” said Shaheen about the ACA.

This group discussed the many ways each of their facilities are helping to get the word out to the public about open enrollment, including radio commercials, e-newsletters, postcards, and traditional media. Marilyn Sullivan, project coordinator for Outreach and Enrollment at Bi-State Primary Care Association, said people can call in to ask questions or make an appointment, and it’s really important everyone updates their insurance plan each year.

“We want people to know the marketplace is in business,” said Sullivan.

Community Health Centers can answer questions, help you compare health plans, and help you enroll in a health plan.

Community Health Centers can answer questions, help you compare health plans, and help you enroll in a health plan. For more information and assistance visit and