Obama allows two year extension of old health plans- what you need to know

Obama allows two year extension of old health plans- what you need to know

This week President Obama announced that he will allow those who have non-ACA compliant plans to keep those plans for an additional two years.  While this will be a boon to those who it applies to, there are many caveats.

First, President Obama’s decree is contingent upon state approval. Given that California has already rejected one such offer it is unlikely that state leaders will accept this more recent one. While the California Insurance Commissioner championed the president’s executive order, the final call came to CoveredCA, the California state-based health exchange. Because their contract with insurers required the cancellation of individual healthcare plans, CoveredCA had the final call.

Second, even if California were to accept the president’s decree, there are only a few plans left in place to which it would apply. It is extremely unlikely that the carriers would be allowed to or even want to re-enroll former members in their old, pre-ACA plans.  The cost and manpower of reopening these plans, repricing them, and then reenrolling the former members would be tremendous.  The only plans in California that would be affected would be those who signed up for Cigna plans in 2013.  Because Cigna did not participate in CoveredCA’s healthcare exchange, they were not bound by the same contract that the rest of the carriers accepted.  This allowed Cigna to keep some non-ACA compliant plans in force.  The president’s new decree will likely be a windfall to those subscribers, however as of this writing Cigna has not confirmed.

When it comes to insurance under the ACA, the situation is always more complicated than it seems. There are numerous layers of bureaucracy that must be considered, and many steps between the president’s words and the actual tangible effect on your personal policy. 

Meanwhile, 25 days remain in 2014’s open enrollment.  After March 31, enrollment is closed to all new customers- regardless of health or income. Our next post will outline what happens in a post-open enrollment environment.