AUGUSTA (AP) — Maine residents seeking health coverage can begin enrolling in plans on the federally-run exchange.

The thee-month open enrollment period that started Saturday brings new choices to Maine consumers as well as new challenges to the health care groups that are hoping to encourage residents who remain uninsured to buy coverage.

Harvard Pilgrim is joining Maine Community Health Options and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and is offering four plans on the individual exchange.

With the arrival of the Massachusetts-based company on the exchange, also known as the marketplace, advocates are encouraging residents who bought coverage during the last enrollment session to take another look at their options because there may be a new plan for which they’re better suited.

The more than 44,000 residents who have already picked plans have the ability to automatically renew their coverage.

But advocates say that that isn’t necessarily the best idea because consumers may need to update their financial information to ensure they’re receiving the right amount of tax credits that help them pay for their coverage.

Health care groups say the biggest challenge this year will be trying to sign up those who chose not to get coverage during the last enrollment session.

Maine Health Community Health Option’s advertising campaign is targeting that group using testimonials of the newly insured and emphasizing that many residents can receive financial help from the federal government for the plans.

Christie Hager, the top U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official for New England, will be in Maine on Tuesday to tout the beginning of the enrollment period. She’s joining Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and others at Becky’s Diner in Portland.


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