Deadline Extended For N.H. Anthem

Concord — New Hampshire residents with individual insurance policies through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield now have until mid-December to renew policies deemed substandard under President Obama’s health care overhaul law.

Anthem recently notified 22,000 customers that their plans were being cancelled, but could be renewed for another year. The original deadline for renewal was Nov. 15, but it has been pushed back twice, and now is Dec. 16.

In the face of public uproar, Obama said earlier this month that consumers could renew their policies for one year as long as both their insurer and state regulators were willing. Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny gave the green-light on Monday and said consumers should contact their insurers for more information.

“Consumers should keep in mind, however, that federal financial assistance is only available for those buying coverage through the federal website,” he said.

Anthem is the dominant player in New Hampshire’s individual health care market and the only company selling policies through the new online markets created by the new law.

“The implementation of the Affordable Care Act and open enrollment is an extraordinary opportunity for the uninsured and those who struggle to afford coverage, and it is transformational for our industry,” Anthem spokesman Chris Dugan said Tuesday. “While all other carriers have chosen to sit out the launch of the exchanges in New Hampshire, Anthem has been, and will continue to be, an essential player.”

The website serving 36 states, including New Hampshire, froze up the day it launched, and several states running their own sites have also experienced technology troubles. Fewer than 27,000 people were able to sign up during October in the federally-administered states, and another 79,000 in state-run programs.

Given the problems with the website, Sevigny also has extended New Hampshire’s high risk insurance pool, which serves 2,750 residents. It was scheduled to shut down Dec. 31, but will remain until alternatives are fully available through, Sevigny said last week.