CONCORD, New Hampshire — After a rocky start, the federal health care overhaul has begun to work better, speeding up communication between federal and state regulators and allowing more residents to enroll online, according to the state panel helping New Hampshire implement the law.
At a meeting Friday, members of the Health Exchange Advisory Board said more people in New Hampshire have been able to apply for a new health plan using healthcare.gov. Jennifer Syria of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pointed out site updates including more capacity, email notifications when the site is available and more information including prices and doctors available in the network.
One of the key improvements was the "remove button" that allows people to start a new application if a previous attempt got hung up in the system.
"It's kind of like night and day compared to the last time I was here," Syria said of the website's performance.
Board co-chair Lisa Guertin, who is also president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire, said her company expects to be able to process all clean applications received by the federal deadline of Dec. 23. A clean application is one that contains no errors.
Anthem is currently the only company offering health plans through the new market in New Hampshire though two others, Harvard Pilgrim and Minuteman Health have said they'll join the market in 2015.
"Healthcare.gov is getting better," Guertin said. "The experience out there has definitely improved."
New Hampshire has partnered with the federal government to manage plans and provide consumer assistance. There were initial delays and sharp criticism of the system when people couldn't enroll online.
Figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show 1,300 individuals selected a plan last month, compared with 269 in October, bringing the total to 1,569. Altogether, the state had 8,763 completed applications by Nov. 30, covering 17,234 people.
The panel also heard that communication between the federal and state health sites has improved, speeding up the process that determines if a person is eligible for Medicaid or a federal subsidy for a health plan on the insurance marketplace.