The Affordable Care Act in front of the Supreme Court of The United States again

The latest constitutional question related to the Affordable Care Act was addressed on March 4, 2015 when the United State Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of King vs. Burwell. This decision could affect 38,000 enrollees in New Hampshire and 67,000 enrollees in Maine but none in Vermont. This case calls into question just part of the law and not the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.

If the court agrees with the plaintiff, residents of New Hampshire and Maine would not be eligible for tax subsidies through Health Care Exchanges because they are operated by the federal government rather than the state. Since Vermont is a state run exchange Vermont residents would not be affected by the outcome.

The controversy all comes down a single line in a very lengthy law stating, people could receive a tax subsidy for health coverage if they enroll “through an exchange established by the State.” Only 14 states qualify by that narrow definition, Vermont being one of them. However New Hampshire and Maine do not. The Internal Revenue Service ruled that the law applies to each exchange regardless of whether the exchange is set up by a state or the federal government.

Attorneys for King argue that Congress intentionally put this in the law as a carrot to encourage states to establish their own state run Health Exchanges. The attorneys arguing for the government agree with the Internal Revenue Service’s interpretation, in that the law applies to all of the state Health Care Exchanges regardless of whether they are state-based, federally-facilitated partnership, or federally-supported state-based exchange.

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Challenge yourself to improve your oral health

This month was National Children’s Dental Health month and with a busy spring ahead of us, I wanted to take the time to stress the importance of oral health. Unfortunately, childhood caries (otherwise known as tooth decay), is a health crisis in the United States – in fact, it’s the most common chronic disease of children from ages six to eleven and adolescents from ages twelve to nineteen*. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable at any age. By brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, and making smart food and beverage choices, you can make a world of difference in you and your child’s oral and overall health. To learn more about how you can improve your oral and overall health, view our Life Stages of Oral Health resources here.

To promote healthy dental habits, we are once again, partnering with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats to present the Oral Health Challenge. The program encourages children to brush twice and floss once daily during a one-week period to earn free tickets for a 2015 New Hampshire Fisher Cats game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester. To participate, children must be 12 years of age of younger; brush twice and floss once daily for seven consecutive days; and complete the downloadable form here.

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New Year, New Ventures

Fourth quarter of 2014 has come and gone and because of some important initiatives here at Northeast Delta Dental, it went by fast. I truly can’t believe January of 2015 is halfway over. We had a great year at Northeast Delta Dental and the New Year looks bright. I hope that your New Year is off to a great start, too.

For starters, we successfully entered the Health Insurance Marketplaces created by the federal Affordable Care Act in Maine and New Hampshire and Vermont’s private exchange, Vermont Health Connect. We have nearly 3,500 subscribers and more than 6,500 covered lives through these exchanges. In keeping with our mission to improve access to oral health care and education, it was critical that we offered dental plans on these exchanges. We also offer coverage through our private exchange,

This past year we entered a partnership with medical carrier Maine Community Health Options (MCHO) which presents new options for New Hampshire’s consumers.  The consumer operated and oriented health insurance plan recently expanded to offer medical plans in New Hampshire for 2015 after capturing more than 83% of the enrollees on the federally facilitated health insurance marketplace in 2014.  Northeast Delta Dental is handling the claims processing for the pediatric dental benefit MCHO is including in three of its medical plans being offered on

Also in 2014, the Northeast Delta Dental Foundation supported a number of oral health initiatives and projects in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. These included the New York University Oral Health Outreach program in Washington County (Machias, Maine); New Hampshire Oral Health Plan; Red Logan Dental Clinic (White River Junction, Vermont); the Vermont State Education Loan Repayment Program for dentists (AHEC); the University of Vermont Dental Residency Program at the University of Vermont Medical Center (formerly Fletcher Allen Health Care); Vermont Head Start Early Head Start Tooth Tutor Program; and the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) Dentist Loan Repayment Program.

We are proud to partner with these organizations to increase access to, and the quality of, oral health care and education in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. I will continue to keep you all informed of new developments here at Northeast Delta Dental.

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!

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Going Green in 2015

Fourth quarter is always a time for reflection and with the year winding down, I wanted to share information about an important initiative we are excited about here at Northeast Delta Dental.

As the region’s most trusted name in dental benefits, we print hundreds of thousands of documents every year including identification cards and Explanation of Benefits (EOBs). We feel that we have a responsibility to help reduce our impact on the environment and as such, we have decided to no longer reprint ID cards for most existing customers starting January 1.

New group customer enrollees and enrollees who receive a new subscriber ID number will continue to receive new or replacement ID cards. However, the product name (PPO, Premier), group number, and office visit co-pay will not be printed on ID cards. Those who need to access this information may do so through Benefit Lookup at, and the Delta Dental mobile app for devices operating on Apple iOS and Android.

Group Administrators can view the same ID card as Benefit Lookup through the Group Admin Portal (GAP); however, Administrators won’t be able to request a replacement plastic ID card. Plastic ID cards will automatically be generated through the GAP whenever the transaction requires a subscriber ID number change or is for a new enrollee.

Also effective January 1, Northeast Delta Dental will issue Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) electronically via our Benefit Lookup portal. If customers wish to view or print EOBs (as far back as six years), they may do so securely through the site.

Of course, any customers who prefer to continue receiving hard copies of EOBs via standard mail, may do so through Benefit Lookup or by calling our Eligibility department after January 1, at 1-603-223-1230.

As always, we welcome any questions or concerns you may have about our new initiatives.

Thank you for supporting our earth-friendly initiatives. Happy Holidays and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

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November updates

There are so many things to be thankful for this year including my incredibly supportive family and my wonderful employee colleagues at Northeast Delta Dental. Without my family’s support and without Northeast Delta Dental’s employees keeping the trains running, I wouldn’t be able to be so involved in our community. My calendar has been full this month and I want to highlight a couple of newsworthy events that have happened around our campus.

Over the weekend, I attended the Granite State Baseball Dinner, an event we are proud to support annually. This event supports the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the Ted Williams Museum, and the NH Fisher Cats Foundation, while recognizing the Fisher Cats Player of the Year. This year, Richard Bleier, pitcher, was awarded the Golden Crown Trophy. More than 1,000 people attended this year’s event to raise funds for these important charities while connecting with current and former baseball greats.

Earlier this month, my employee colleague, Beth-Ann Barrett was honored for her longtime service to The Friendly Kitchen at Volunteer NH’s Spirit of NH Awards. She has been involved with The Friendly Kitchen for more than 25 years and has helped to serve meals to countless residents of greater Concord, New Hampshire over the years. Congratulations, Beth-Ann!

I am sure I will see many of you tomorrow at either the Bow Police 5k Turkey Trot or the Galloping Gobbler race at Bishop Brady.

I hope you and your family have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

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So Far, So Good: Open Enrollment and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

What a difference a year makes. The second Open Enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplaces in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont opened at midnight this past Saturday.  So far, so good.  This is a big change from the start of last year’s Open Enrollment when so much that could go wrong with the new technology, did.

This year, though, four days into year two of the ACA’s online insurance marketplaces, most reports say that they are working well.  According to the federal government, on Sunday alone more than 100,000 people enrolled in the 2015 health plans on

Vermont Health Connect (VHC) has also received positive reports so far.  The VHC website was shut down for most of the last two months; however, it is up and running now and good for Vermont.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department, the agency responsible for implementing the ACA’s federal online health insurance marketplace, is predicting between nine and ten million people will purchase their medical coverage on in 2015.  That’s two to three million more than bought plans in 2014.

At Northeast Delta Dental, we’re expecting thousands of individuals and families to choose one of our stand-alone plans on either or VHC again this year.

Our new partnership with Maine Community Health Options (MCHO) is going to be something to watch this year, too.  We are handling the claims processing for the pediatric dental benefit they are including in three of their medical plans in Maine and New Hampshire.  More than 80% of individuals and families in Maine who bought a medical plan on last year bought it from MCHO.  We’re wishing them equal success as they branch out into New Hampshire this year.

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Books I am Reading: Paid to Think

One of my employee colleagues attended a Public Relations Society of America conference in sunny Florida earlier this year and brought back Paid to Think written by David Goldsmith, one of the keynote speakers.  The book discusses Enterprise Thinking, a revolutionary, research-based approach to leadership that explains how successful leaders perform a dozen important activities on a daily basis in the areas of strategizing, learning, performing, and forecasting.

Goldsmith also mentions the idea of taking a 50,000 feet approach to running a company.  For example, it is my responsibility to make sure Northeast Delta Dental meets our annual Smart Goals and while I do worry about the little things occasionally, I know that we hire capable employees who know how to do their jobs right the first time.  At Northeast Delta Dental we focus on attracting and retaining skilled employees and require all job applicant finalists to complete a Predictive Index® assessment and a critical thinking assessment before they are hired.  We serve a number of different audiences including our customers, participating dentists, and producers and we require these tests to help make sure our employees communicate and solve problems effectively and efficiently.

Paid to Think provides leaders with the necessary tools to “keep the trains running” and serves as a reminder that while the little things are important, if you have capable staff in place and a strategic plan, it’s okay to relax a bit. I recommend all corporate leaders pick-up a copy.

Paid to Think

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