Pressure Grows on Insurance Companies to Extend Policies

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 03:03 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Health insurance companies have bipartisan support from members of Congress and state officials to offer an extension to individual policyholders, who have received cancellation notices because their current policies do not comply with Obamacare requirements.

Blue Shield of California announced Tuesday that it is offering a 90-day extension to 113,000 individual policy holders who had previously been notified that their policies were being canceled at the end of the year. The move comes after the insurance company received pressure from California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"Allowing consumers to stay in their existing plans longer is the right thing to do for policyholders," Jones said. "State and federal law allow Californians to keep their current policies beyond December 31."

In the Senate, Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia co-authored a measure that would allow individuals to keep their current healthcare plans for another year.

A similar measure has been offered in the House by Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Upton's proposal would permit insurers to continue to sell policies that were allowed on Jan. 1, 2013 through 2014. After that, the extension would be reviewed. It has received support from about 100 other GOP lawmakers.

"Despite the president's repeated promise of 'if you like your plan, you can keep it,' many Americans are now learning the sad reality that their current plan will no longer exist beginning on January 1," Upton said in a statement.

Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont has already asked two of the states largest insurance companies to give consumers through March 31 before their current policy is cancelled.

"I won't tolerate a situation where Vermonters go in the holiday season worried and confused by their health care options come Jan. 1," Shumlin said. "That is simply unacceptable."

About 10 million Americans with individual policies have received cancellation notices from their health insurance companies saying that they would no longer have the same policy after Dec. 31, 2013.

This has left many having to shop for plans with higher premiums and deductibles either directly from insurers or through the Obamacare exchange website, that has been plagued with problems since it was unveiled on Oct. 1.

When White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked Tuesday about the Senate measure, he said that the president has not seen the plan yet, but that selling "substandard" plans would go against "the fundamental promise of the Affordable Care Act, which is that everyone in America should have access to affordable, quality health care coverage."

Related Stories:
Dick Morris: Dems Will Force Obama to Withdraw Insurance Cancellations
Tea Party's Martin: Democrats Abandon Obamacare Ship

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