Obamacare 'Fix' Could Turn Insurance Marketplace into Chaos

Friday, 15 Nov 2013 11:17 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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President Barack Obama’s latest decision to back-pedal on individual health plans — allowing insurers to extend existing policies to consumers for one year — could drive the marketplace into pandemonium, resulting in the very legislation intended to improve national healthcare being its impetus to fail, The Hill reported Friday.

"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, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the nation’s largest trade group for insurance companies.

"Premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption of when consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace. If due to these changes fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase in the marketplace and there will be fewer choices for consumers."

Ignagni also said her organization strongly opposes legislation, which some lawmakers are pushing, that would allow consumers to keep existing plans, saying it "would provoke an administrative fiasco and could have serious implications for the new marketplace’s pool, premium prices and the cost of the law to the federal government," The Hill reported.

The newspaper also noted a report online by Forbes magazine saying the president’s proposed fix may just delay the inevitable for consumers.

"It’s not clear whether insurance companies will actually renew plans they have already cancelled, and many may still feel they need to cancel plans because the Affordable Care Act fundamentally changes the dynamics of the individual insurance market,” Forbes staffer Matthew Herper wrote. "The fix also makes no promises about next year. The Administration will get to decide whether to agree to allow these plans to be continued again. So it’s not like the plans are being officially grandfathered."

Under the president’s so-called administrative fix, insurance companies can renew existing plans that don’t meet Obamacare's minimal requirements, though the insurer may still opt for cancellation. Insurers will be required to notify consumers where their current plans are lacking, and what other less expensive plans may be available.

Related Stories:

White House Extends 'Individual Mandate' Deadline
Obamacare: Not Enough Young, Healthy Enrollees to Offset Costs


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