The enrollment period on the federal health care exchange begins Saturday and ends Feb. 15.

During the first enrollment session from October 2013 through March, more than 44,000 Mainers signed up for coverage on the exchange, nearly double the target set by the federal government. Now the groups that will help Maine residents sign up for coverage hope to repeat that success.

Here are five things to know about the upcoming open enrollment session in Maine:


Maine residents will have more plans to choose from as Harvard Pilgrim Health Care joins the state’s federally run marketplace. The Massachusetts-based nonprofit insurance provider is offering four plans on the individual exchange. That also means more competition for the two companies already on the marketplace, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Maine Community Health Options. The latter is the state’s co-op that garnered more than 80 percent of the people who signed up during the first enrollment period.


Many Maine residents will see their premiums drop or stay the same. The average rate for Maine Health Community Options plans decreased by 0.8 percent, according to the Maine Bureau of Insurance. For Anthem plans, the average premium rate declined by 1.1 percent, the bureau said.


The federal government has developed an auto-enroll option that allows those who already have coverage through the exchange to remain in their plans, but Maine health care groups are urging residents to take another look at their options. Advocates say people may need to update their financial information or other details to ensure they’re getting the right amount of subsidies. Also, several more plans are offered with the addition of Harvard Pilgrim on the exchange this year.


More people throughout Maine will be available to assist residents in signing up for coverage. About 75 staff and volunteers will be trained as navigators throughout the state, up from 65 last year, said Jake Grindle, health services navigator for Western Maine Community Action. The organization also added one agency to the network that will help Maine residents with coverage. The addition of Penquis, which covers Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, means that navigators will have office locations in all 16 counties, Grindle said. Navigators are already signing people up for appointments for when the enrollment session opens.

Maine lobstermen can again get help figuring out their options through the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. Last year, the group had one navigator and this year will have a second working part-time, said April Gilmore, adding that evening hours will be offered.


Thousands of people who have coverage through MEGA Life & Health Insurance off the exchange will need to choose new plans soon. Roughly 3,700 MEGA customers’ plans will discontinue at the end of the year and about 3,130 more will end in March. MEGA, which has pulled out of several states, said the declining customer base makes the plans no longer economically feasible. The Maine Bureau of Insurance says MEGA customers who don’t select plans on the exchange during the open enrollment period will likely be able to buy coverage within 60 days of their plans’ termination.

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