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HealthCare Vitals

The cost of healthcare services, including prescription drugs, tops the list of people’s financial worries according to a national February 2024 KFF Health Tracking Poll.  In fact, nearly half (48%) of insured people reported worrying about whether they could afford to pay their monthly premiums.  The work in New Hampshire on healthcare accountability and transparency is critical to help communities, providers, and businesses manage the future of affordable New Hampshire healthcare. 

Here is the latest 

Healthcare is a major cost driver for small businesses and for families.  Data presented at the annual Health Law and Policy Symposium this year reflected that healthcare costs have grown consistently over the last 20 years in the US and in the state. The average per person healthcare expenditures in NH were $11,793 and NH average family premiums and deductibles represented nearly half (49%) of NH average wages.  Growing numbers of NH residents have deductibles and the majority of deductibles in NH’s small and large groups markets are $3,000 or more.  This can be an affordability challenge for many and can have real impact on accessing care, as is demonstrated in the data:  11% of all people in New Hampshire and 26% of Granite Staters who identify as multi-racial reported that they could not see a doctor when they needed to because of cost.   

There is also great price variability and unpredictability, which complicates accessing care.  According to the NH Healthcost Website, a diagnostic psychiatric evaluation can cost between $91 to $210 for a patient who has group health coverage through their employer, and between $12 to $347 for an individual who has no insurance. As deductibles increase, patients have a harder time making choices about affordable care.  

What does this mean for New Hampshire?  

During the month of April 2024, the State of New Hampshire focused on protecting healthcare consumers from potential costly harms in several ways: 1) intense review and conditional approval by the Attorney General of the most recent proposed hospital transaction; 2) further support for consumer healthcare protections, and 3) ongoing work on prescription drug affordability.   

  1.  Review and Conditional Approval of Hospital Transacti

    on. The NH Attorney General’s Office engaged in an intensive review and analysis of yet another hospital consolidation transaction in New Hampshire, this time a request by Dartmouth Hitchcock Health (D-HH), to bring Valley Regional Hospital, Claremont, under the D-HH umbrella as its 7th hospital/medical center. In order to protect consumers health and wellbeing, the AG asked for a court order, placing conditions on the proposed transaction.   

  1. NH Healthcare Consumer Protection Advisory Commission.  The new Commission, established by  “NH RSA 7:6-h" met on April 1, 2024 to begin its mission on behalf of healthcare consumers to advise the AG on how relevant funds in the NH Healthcare consumer protection trust fund should be expended.  See NH RSA 7:6-f-h; Final Judgement, Beth Israel Health – Exeter Health Resources. In two separate hospital consolidations, New Hampshire courts have ordered resources be paid to the NH Healthcare Consumer Protection Trust Fund. 

  1. NH Prescription Drug Affordability Board: The Board, established by RSA 126-BB, continued to determine how best to define and report on prescription drug “affordability” at a meeting on April 22, 2024, including considering spending targets on specific prescription drugs that may cause affordability challenges to enrollees in a public payor health plans. 

Protecting healthcare consumers is always a concern and is particularly important now given the high cost of healthcare and the lack of comprehensive oversight and accountability of this system.    

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