Open enrollment started Nov. 1 and will continue through Jan. 15 for beWellnm, the state’s Obama-era health insurance exchange for people who aren’t offered health care by employers or are self-employed.
New Mexicans will have one month longer to enroll than in prior years, when the deadline was Dec. 15.
BeWellnm has transitioned from the federal marketplace healthcare.gov to a state-operated exchange. New Mexico is now among 17 states that have state-based health exchanges.
BeWellnm this year also has six insurance carriers — all New Mexico-based — and the most options yet since the programs started in 2014.
The health insurance exchange carriers for 2022 are Molina and Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, both involved since the beginning; Friday Health Plans and Ambetter (also known as Western Sky Community Care), which were new to the exchange in 2021; True Health; and Presbyterian Health Plan, which is returning after an absence since 2016.
Healthinsurance.org calculated that all rates from all carriers average out to an 8.6 percent increase over the 2021 level. But the report stresses that does not include subsidies offered through the federal American Rescue Plan, which can reduce rates for most applicants earning up to 400 percent more than the poverty line.
The subsidies are based on numerous factors, primarily household size and income, said Maureen Manring, director of communication and outreach at beWellnm.
“Four out of five New Mexicans who are eligible for health insurance through beWellnm can receive premiums of less than $10 per month with subsidies,” Manring said. “If you think it was unaffordable before, please relook at the information. This is the year for coverage.”
Manring said 15,000 Santa Fe residents are uninsured.
The open enrollment deadline might be Jan. 15, but for coverage to start Jan. 1, applications must be completed by Dec. 23. Applications submitted after Dec. 23 will have policies go into effect Feb. 1.
BeWellnm will have representatives at the Southside Branch Library, 6599 Jaguar Drive, from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday to review insurance options with residents and determine if they are eligible to receive low-cost insurance or steep discounts.
All plans by all insurers will be available in all 33 counties; it’s not common in other states for all counties to be served, Manring said.
Operating its own exchange system enables beWellnm to track data in real time and have data it did not have before, Manring said.
“It will give us a chance to have more targeted outreach [in counties with low application rates],” she said. “We get a real bird’s-eye view as to what is occurring.”
For the first time, the customer engagement center at 833-862-3935 is staffed by New Mexicans.
“You will know when you call in, you’re talking to somebody in New Mexico,” Manring said. “They have an ability to help find resources for assistance.”