Teya Vitu | 10/29/2019
As New Mexico’s online health insurance exchange prepares to open its enrollment period Friday for 2020 coverage, officials said residents seeking policies will find a new provider in the mix and average rates close to those offered in 2019 — including premium decreases for some plans.
Two events will be held in Santa Fe in the next couple of weeks for those planning to enroll in insurance policies through one of the four providers participating in the exchange. “You can ask your questions,” said Katrina Smith, a broker relations specialist for the network, called beWellnm. “… We will have one-on-one assistance.”
BeWellnm is now in its seventh year of connecting New Mexico residents with health insurance coverage. It was created in 2013 through the federal Affordable Care Act and has 47,000 people enrolled, according to Smith. That’s down from more than 51,000 in 2017.
While the federal law initially mandated insurance coverage, or imposed a penalty on taxpayers’ IRS returns, the penalty no longer applies.
From Friday until Dec. 15, residents who aren’t offered health insurance through an employer and don’t qualify for Medicare can choose from a variety of health and dental care policies at beWellnm. Exchange users also can learn if they or their children qualify for coverage through Medicaid or the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Many consumers who enroll in insurance plans through the exchange can qualify for federal subsidies to help cover premium costs.
Enrollees earning between 138 percent of the federal poverty level — which is the limit for Medicaid coverage in the state — and 400 percent likely will qualify for aid. The poverty level now stands at $12,490 for a one-person household, $16,910 for two people and $25,750 for a family of four.
The overall average insurance rate increase for 2020 policies through the New Mexico exchange is about 0.9 percent. But consumers will find several options at decreased costs.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, for instance, is offering a 6 percent average decrease on its plans, according to the New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance and Molina Health Care of New Mexico, which has the largest membership through beWellnm, will have an average premium decrease of 1.8 percent.
Premiums on policies offered through New Mexico Health Connections will increase by an average of 1.9 percent.
True Health New Mexico will be new to beWellnm in 2020. The company replaces Texas-based Christus Health Plan, which will not return in 2020 after the superintendent of insurance determined in August it had failed to submit documents proving compliance with state and federal consumer protection laws and coverage mandates.
More than 1,100 Christus Health Plan policies in New Mexico obtained through beWellnm expire Dec. 31.
After the Dec. 15 deadline, the only way to enroll in insurance coverage through beWellnm is through a life-changing event such as the birth of a child, a job loss that leads to loss of coverage, a recent move to New Mexico or the loss of Medicaid.
If you go
New Mexico’s health insurance exchange, beWellnm, will hold two enrollment events for 2020 coverage in Santa Fe, where residents seeking policies can learn about rates, coverage plans, federal subsidies and other information:
• 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, 1644 St Michael’s Drive.
• 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center, 3221 Rodeo Road.
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