November 16, 2013

In Maine, Obamacare shift could affect many

About 15,000 facing canceled or altered policies might be able to keep their plans, but it’s uncertain.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about his signature health care law, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Bowing to pressure, President Barack Obama intends to permit continued sale of individual insurance plans that have been canceled because they failed to meet coverage standards under the health care law, officials said Thursday.

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

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MEGA Life and Health Insurance Co. sent “early renewal” notices to more than 3,850 policy holders in Maine. The Maine Bureau of Insurance said those policies covered 6,175 people.

Unlike Anthem, MEGA Life opted to renew the policies to begin Dec. 31 – the day before the Affordable Care Act requirements begin – to extend those policies through December 2014.

MEGA Life spokeswoman Donna Ledbetter said after the president’s announcement that the company plans to continue renewing the non-compliant policies in the individual market.

Those involved in Maine’s debate over insurance policies disagreed on the impact of the Obama administration’s plan.

Dan Bernier, an attorney and lobbyist who represents insurance agents in Augusta, said it will be difficult for insurance companies to backtrack now.

Bernier said insurance companies do not know how many policy holders will stick with their plans. That could knock the economic or actuarial calculations that underlie those plans out of balance, if too many chronically ill people re-enroll while healthy individuals go elsewhere, he said.

But Stein, with Consumers for Affordable Health Care, said it is in all parties’ interests – consumers, insurance companies and politicians – to make the president’s proposal work.

“When you are trying to reform a system that is broken, there is going to be some disruption,” Stein said.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:kmiller@pressherald.comTwitter: KevinMillerDC

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Today's poll: Affordable Care Act

Should President Obama do more to fix the Affordable Care Act?

Yes

No

View Results