Q. Who decides whether I can renew a policy slated for cancellation?
A. Insurers and state regulators. Neither Obama nor the federal Department of Health and Human Services can force extension of the plans.
But the administration did set rules: If insurers renew policies – and their state allows it – they must notify consumers and point out that they may find other options and subsidies through the online marketplaces.
Q: How have insurers reacted?
A: Many wanted to learn more details about Obama’s offer. BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, which was canceling about 200,000 individual policies at end of the year, said it was interested in the option but not ready to commit.
Florida Blue says it will allow customers to renew 2013 policies, a decision that could affect as many as 300,000 people over the next year and immediately affects 40,000 people who were losing their existing plan at end of this year.
Some insurers are urging state regulators to disallow the extensions. In California, the state should “stay the course and transition people into more comprehensive policies,” said Patrick Johnston, CEO of the California Association of Health Plans.
The major insurance trade group warned that consumers renewing noncompliant plans will be predominantly younger and healthier, while older and sicker people will migrate to the subsidized marketplaces. That could drive up costs.
“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” said Karen Ignagni, CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans.