Statesman Journal: Nine Oregon Insurance Companies Extending Canceled Health Plans

statesman_journal | Nov. 25, 2013 9:21 a.m. | Updated: Nov. 26, 2013 9:16 a.m.

Contributed By:

Saerom Yoo

Nine insurance companies have notified the Oregon Insurance Division that they plan to extend health insurance policies that are not compliant with the Affordable Care Act, officials said.

Combined, the extensions cover most of the individual market.

The Affordable Care Act, which lays down basic coverage and out-of-pocket maximum requirements for insurance plans, led to many dropped individual policies. Consumers were told they could automatically roll into a different — often more expensive — plan offered by their carriers, or shop for a new plan in or outside of the exchange.

President Obama responded to the millions of Americans’ complaints by leaving it up to individual states to decide whether to allow extensions on the plans. Many of them offer fewer benefits than what the health law requires.

Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali decided to allow extensions and issued detailed rules to insurance companies last week. They had the option to extend the plans through the end of March or end of 2014.

Moda Health Plan and PacificSource Health Plans, which dropped policies that covered less than 40 percent of the individual market, will extend their plans through the end of March. Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, Providence Health Plan, LifeWise HealthPlan of Oregon, Health Net Health Plan of Oregon, Time Insurance Company and John Alden Life Insurance Company are extending their noncompliant policies through December 2014. Those policies account for about 60 percent of the individual market.

“Regence is offering additional health coverage options through 2014 because we’re committed to ensuring that none of our members suffer a gap in coverage on Jan. 1,” Don Antonucci, president of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, said in a statement. “This is an unprecedented time of change in health care, and we’re here to support our members and help them understand all of their options, both on and off the exchange.”

Companies must notify their customers by Friday. Those who want to remain covered by those plans must opt-in. To be eligible, the consumers must have been covered by the plans as of Oct. 1 and must remain covered through the rest of this year.

These consumers will not be eligible for tax subsidies through Cover Oregon, by they will have met the personal mandate for 2014.

In any case, Cali said Oregonians have options.

“Consumers can choose to keep current plans a little longer or they can choose to shop for more comprehensive benefits and financial assistance through Cover Oregon,” Cali said in a statement.

syoo@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6673 or follow at Twitter.com/syoo

 

What now?

If you’re an individual health insurance consumer whose current noncompliant health policy will be extended into part or all of next year, there are a several options to consider.

Opt-in to stay on that plan, but you must have been covered by the policy as of Oct. 1 and remain on it through Dec. 31, 2014. This will satisfy your 2014 personal mandate but will make you ineligible for financial assistance offered through Cover Oregon, the state health insurance exchange.

You could shop for a new, qualified health plan through Cover Oregon and apply for financial assistance to help pay for the premiums.

If you don’t qualify for tax credits, you could fill out the shorter Cover Oregon application form to shop on the exchange or forgo the application process altogether and shop off the exchange.

Consulting an agent may help you decide what’s best. Find one at CoverOregon.com.

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