- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire said Friday that on average, its customers who have purchased insurance plans under the federal health care overhaul law will see no increases in premiums next year.

Anthem was the only company selling health plans through the new marketplace this year, but it will be joined by two other private insurance companies - Harvard Pilgrim and Assurant - and two cooperatives - Maine Community Health Options and Minuteman - when enrollment re-opens on Nov. 15 for coverage that will take effect in January.

Anthem said its overall rates will remain flat, but some policyholders could see changes depending on their individual plans, their ages and whether they smoke.

“Considering all of the uncertainties we faced being the only insurer to offer exchange plans in 2014, we are really pleased to be able to offer our customers not only continued affordability but also price stability,” the company said.

Last year, the sticker-price premium for a mid-range benchmark plan averaged $360 per month for an individual, before the application of tax credits that work like an upfront discount for most consumers. Plans are divided into “metal levels” that differ in the amount of cost-sharing through annual deductibles and copayments. Bronze plans - which have the lowest premiums and the highest cost-sharing - cover 60 percent of expected costs, while platinum plans cover 90 percent.

Anthem plans to offer 10 individual plans - nine metal-level plans plus one catastrophic plan - and three group plans for small businesses.

Maine Community Health, which offered plans in Maine this year, said its average rates also will remain stable. The monthly premiums for a 25-year-old range from $204 for bronze-level coverage to $306 for gold-level coverage. For a 50-year-old, the same coverage would range from $364 for bronze and $545 for gold.

The total number of plans available to individuals is expected to increase to more than 50, and each New Hampshire hospital is expected to be included in at least three of the provider networks. Anthem had been criticized for excluding 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals from its network.

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