Oct 29, 2015 1:39 PM insurance premiums averaging around 5 percent increase

Health insurance premiums are expected to increase an average of 5 percent for people who get their insurance through in 2016, according to the Union Leader.

Open enrollment for coverage in 2016 begins on Nov. 1 and continues through Jan. 31.

“Not only will rate changes vary considerably from one carrier to another, there’s a new carrier on the exchange and more plans will be available for 2016. Long story short, don’t rely on auto-renewal of your 2015 coverage,” Louise Norris wrote in a Sept. 15 preview of New Hampshire rates, urging people to shop around.

The number of insurers offering plans and the number of hospitals in their networks is in stark contrast to the first full year of Obamacare in New Hampshire, 2014, when Anthem was the only carrier, with only 16 of the state’s 26 hospitals in its network.

In 2015, the state has five carriers, which will continue into 2016, although Assurant is exiting the market and being replaced by Ambetter Health.

Anthem, with more than 25,000 enrolled as of September, is by far the largest carrier, followed by Minuteman Health, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Community Health Options.

Anthem spokesperson Colin Manning predicted rates for his company would be relatively stable. “In fact, for members on the silver plan, the most popular Anthem plan on the exchange, they will see no increase in premiums, on average,” he said.

Minuteman Health, which enrolled more than 9,000 members in its first year, is predicting increases between 5 percent and 9 percent.

At Harvard-Pilgrim, the increase in the benchmark silver plan will be approximately 5 percent, according to Beth Roberts, senior vice president for regional markets. “We actually have premium decreases on other silver, bronze and gold plans,” she said.

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