On the news there is conflicting information about Obamacare and what’s been delayed. I understand that the employer mandate is delayed again but what’s this all this hubbub about being able to keep my plan if I like it? Does this apply in California?
—Hassled by the Hubbub
On November 14, 2013, the Obama administration (through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) sent a letter to every state Insurance Commissioner letting them know that it would be okay for state regulators to allow insurance companies to renew for another year individual and small group health insurance policies that did not meet all of the reforms imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”).
Each state insurance commissioner was given the discretion along with insurers in his or her state to renew “non-compliant” plans. Most states allowed insurers to renew these non-conforming plans, but California and Arizona were among those that did not. California officials cited concerns including administrative obstacles, consumer confusion, and potential premium increases as reasons not to renew these plans.
Fast-forward to March 5, 2014, the Obama administration (this time through the Department of Health and Human Services) issued a bulletin again allowing individual states to renew non-compliant plans for an additional two years. This latest bulletin also provides states that had chosen not to renew non-compliant plans in November 2013 with a do-over. That is, the states that had not allowed renewal can again choose to allow 2013 polices that renew in 2014 to be non-compliant and then extend that period of non-compliance for two more years.
Why is the administration adding to the confusion and complexity of an already ludicrously intricate law? Some say that these relief policies are merely political machinations engineered to prevent Democratic Party losses in close mid-term congressional elections.
Regardless of the rationale for the administration’s actions, in California and Arizona the same reasons that existed in November 2013 that prevented these states from renewing non-compliant plans remain. These reasons may prevent adoption of the administration’s offered, optional March 5, 2014 extension. In these states employer groups will not (as of the date of drafting) be allowed to “keep their plan if they like it” and the ACA’s market reforms are now effective.
For more information about this article or if you have other questions about health care reform contact our Health Care Reform team today at HealthCareReform@wga.com or 800-333-4WGA. Write to Dear Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and resources on Health Care Reform, visit www.wgat.com/health-care-reform.
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