By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
CONCORD — An announcement Monday by the state Insurance Department that five companies will offer health plans under New Hampshire’s federal Affordable Care Act network in 2015 could be a boost for top Democrats officeholders running for reelection.
During 2014, the state has had only one so-called carrier, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, which has been criticized for its “narrow network” that excludes 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals.
Earlier in the year, the insurance department announced that Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of New England and Minuteman Health of Massachusetts will offer plans beginning next year.
Today it added two more for 2015: Assurant Health, the brand name for products underwritten and issued by Time Insurance Company, and Maine Community Health Options have been licensed to offer marketplace plans in 2015.
‘‘New Hampshire residents have asked for options,’’ Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny said in a statement. ‘‘It’s all about choice — choice of carriers, choice of plans, and choice of provider networks. Choice is good for consumers and good for competition.’’
According to the department, the Maine firm plans to introduce its products in four New Hampshire counties – Rockingham, Strafford, Carroll, and Coos – with offerings both on and off the marketplace. It will then expand its network during the course of the year, the department said.
Republicans have been focusing on the “Obamacare” issue in New Hampshire as a key criticism of incumbent Democrats. New Hampshire more than 40,000 residents have chosen plans, although about 22,000 had lost coverage.
Gov. Maggie Hassan, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster, while expressing frustration at the start-up of the marketplace, have been supporters of the ACA overall.
In a statement today, Hassan said, “Today’s announcement that two additional carriers plan to offer coverage on New Hampshire’s Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015 is fantastic news that will improve affordability and increase choices for all New Hampshire citizens.
“Bringing additional competition to our Health Insurance Marketplace is a critical component of our effort to bring quality, affordable health coverage to all Granite Staters, and with five carriers now planning to offer coverage in 2015, we have taken an important step toward improving the health and financial well-being of our people.”