November 27, 2013

Mainers facing canceled insurance can renew current policies

Regulators decide Anthem can give individuals more time to choose coverage that complies with the new health care law.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this Oct. 1, 2013 file photo, Emily Brostek, left, assists Jesse Miller of Portland in learning about health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. Maine insurance regulators will allow Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to renew policies that were slated for cancellation next year because the plans did not meet the minimum standards of President Obama’s new health care law.

Andy Molloy/Staff Photographer

The other major insurer in Maine’s individual market, MEGA Life and Health Insurance Co., gave its policyholders the option of renewing their policies next month – before the new standards begin Jan. 1 – to extend those policies through December 2014.

Sheehan, the Anthem spokesman, said the company will contact affected individual policyholders in the coming days to discuss their options. In the meantime, he said, those with questions should call their insurance brokers or Anthem at (877) 890-4507.

Cioppa, Maine’s insurance superintendent, said that allowing renewals of non-compliant plans will soften the 16.5 percent premium increase that Anthem had proposed for individual plans that are exempt from the higher standards. The average premium increase for those plans is now expected to be 12.6 percent, he said.

MANY MAINERS MAY END UP SAVING

Families USA, a group that supports the Affordable Care Act, recently released a report estimating that 71 percent of Americans who buy insurance on the individual market are eligible for either Medicaid or federal subsidies to buy insurance in the new marketplace. That would help reduce their out-of-pocket costs while improving the scope of their health insurance, the report said.

Although the percentage differed by state, Families USA estimated that 71 percent of Mainers in the individual market would potentially qualify for Medicaid or subsidies.

In a lengthy report released Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged that allowing states to offer non-compliant plans for another year will affect the financial balance of the marketplaces. That’s because more healthy individuals – who typically cost insurance companies less – will stay out of the health marketplaces, the newspaper The Hill reported Tuesday.

This story was updated at 10:38 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27 to correct information about small group policyholders.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@pressherald.com

Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

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