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Insurance Companies: No time for Obamacare Fix
President Obama's tweak to the health care law is having quite the ripple effect tonight. Congress, health care companies and state insurance commissioners are scrambling today after the president announced that insurers can keep existing customers for just a year.
Insurers argue that the one-eighty is unfair, and does not allow them the time to implement the new plan of resubmitting canceled policies before the December 15th deadline. Meanwhile the house passed a plan this afternoon allowing existing policies be offered to everyone. That plan would still need Senate approval. But even if it all goes through, the question is how many people would actually take advantage of the new change?
"They've left it up to the insurance commissioners in the various states and superintendents to make final decisions," said Dan Colacino, VP at Rose & Kiernan. "I haven't seen anything from dfs yet that says we're actually going to do some of this in New York."
Colacino represents insurance companies through the Rose & Kiernan firm, and the insurance companies are now mapping out how they can invite back the people who were told their plans would be dropped.
"At this point I think the state will allow some of these plans to continue under certain parameters," Colacino said.
They are uncertain at this point. A representative from the state Department of Financial Services only said: "we are reviewing the President's announcement and doing the necessary due diligence on the matter."
"We've spent the last eighteen to twenty-four months getting ready for this and now to have this additional complexity being thrown in to the mix really right at the eleventh hour will be a heavy lift," said Brian O'Grady, VP of BlueShield of Northern New York.
6% of BlueShield's consumers were told their plans didn't meet the minimum requirements for the Affordable Care Act.
"The challenge will be if it's decided that those plans can come back there are no rates for them for next year," O'Grady said.
As for the people who received notices from their insurance companies, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said, "I would also tell them to study, make sure their insurer gives them the options of all the different things they're offering and just figure out short term and long term what's better for them."
Companies may also need to gain legislative approval to make any changes. Those in the field though might have been surprised by the President's announcement, but Mr. Colacino said federal legislators who read the law would know plans would have to change at least two years ago.
BlueShield estimates that some of the consumers whose plans were discontinued will go to purchase insurance on the New York State of Health exchange, saying the plans there will result in a cost saving to its members.