Health Care In The States

Florida Regulator, Blues Plan Agree To Insurance Fix Proposed By Obama

By Phil Galewitz

November 15th, 2013, 5:03 PM

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said he will allow insurers to adopt President Barack Obama’s plan to extend current policies facing cancellation so that consumers can keep the coverage they have now. In fact, he was permitting plans to do that months before the president suggested it.

Most carriers will be unaffected because the state had already allowed Aetna, Humana, Coventry and Cigna to offer members the option of renewing their 2013 policies before the end of this year to avoid having to add the new benefits and higher costs associated with the Affordable Care Act. Florida Blue, the state’s largest insurer, was one big exception.

The proposal deals with policies purchased by individuals, not those provided through an employer.

Hours after Obama’s announcement Thursday, however, the state’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliate said it planned to follow the president’s suggestion to extend policies, starting with 40,000 policyholders who were being canceled at the end of December. Eventually, all of its 300,000 policyholders could be given the same option when their policies expire next year.

McCarty said Florida Blue would not raise rates on policyholders whose coverage was slated to end in December because it’s too late for the insurer to meet the state’s 45 days notice requirement to consumers.

Florida Blue Senior Vice President Jon Urbanek said many of policies being canceled in December offered limited benefits, for instance, covering hospital care only or physician care only.

Florida Blue will allow members to continue their existing coverage or explore new plan options under the health law.  Affected members will receive letters informing them that they can keep their current plans through 2014.  The company is examining the impact on small group plans.

McCarty, an outspoken critic of the health law, said he did not know how many policyholders in Florida have taken insurers up on offers to renew their current policies before the end of the year. He said several other states, including Arkansas and Mississippi, have offered insurers and policyholders the same options.

The president’s plan to extend 2013 policies into next year should have been done months ago, he said. “At best, it’s a temporary fix because this just kicks the can down the road,” in terms of letting policyholders hold onto their current plans.

McCarty worries the strategy will impact insurers selling coverage in the federal insurance marketplace because they might be left with older, sicker enrollees. That could drive up costs and lead to higher premiums in 2015, he said.

8 Responses to “Florida Regulator, Blues Plan Agree To Insurance Fix Proposed By Obama”

  1. Tammy says:

    Republicans want America to think that the vast majority of Americans will be affected by this issue when, in reality, it will affect a very small fraction of Americans. Actually, the vast majority of Americans, over 95 percent, are covered by employer sponsored insurance, are covered by Medicare, are covered by Medicaid or are totally uninsured. Of the five percent that are left, the five percent that are underinsured, only a small fraction of them are seeing their policies canceled. Someone needs to call Republicans out and make them accountable and make them deal with reality.

  2. James says:

    This article is about Florida. Does anyone trust politicians in Florida? I sure don’t! I rank Florida with Texas. About 50 to 75 years behind the rest of America in all categories. Still in the dark ages. Confederates! I say, if they want to secede, we should do all we can to help them!

  3. Robert White says:

    Confederates? Ok, James, yeah. Stay out of Florida. You’d hate it. Stick with what you know and keep that mind closed.

    And Tammy, you criticize Republicans for being concerned with 5% of the population, a mere 15 million people. Why were we hectored then in the months leading up to the passage of this abomination (predicted to fail and now proving to fail) about the plight of those pitiful uninsured? Why, they comprise but a fraction of the population, too? How is it that we were wrong to be complacent with the insurance we enjoyed (polls stated that 80% of people liked their current insurance and did not want it replaced), but now that lots of people are forced to lose the insurance they like and want, we are told we are wrong to sympathize with them?

    A little consistency, please.

  4. kpk says:

    Interesting that when the law was being promoted by the Dems it was a crime if even one person in America was denied affordable health care but now when it’s collapsing under its own weight of misrepresentations and miscalculations it’s OK that a few million hard working Americans lose their insurance. Hey Dems!! Before doing your traditional chant of blaming the rich Republicans for everything take a look in the mirror and admit the truth to at least yourselves. We already know you’ll never admit it to us. We may not be perfect but we’re not always wrong and this is one of those times.

  5. tony says:

    If Obamacare is “predicted to fail and now proving to fail” as Robert suggests, what’s left? Back to the chaos we’ve had for so many decades? Back to total insurance company control? Back to policy cancellations when you get sick? Back to kicking children off their parents policy at age 18 ( or 23 for college students)? Back to an enormous prescription drug donut hole that had seniors scared to death of going bankrupt? Back to hospitals struggling to fund uncompensated emergency room care with no hope of relief except to eventually shut it down as the slowly go broke? Back to constant fear that your insurance broker didn’t fully explain the “fine print” on your policy and you find out only when your policy doesn’t cover anything related to that preexisting condition? Back to completely ignoring nearly the 50 million (and growing) uninsured Americans that are costing every insured person in America at least $1200 extra in hidden premiums each year (and growing) as they get the most costly care available at a hospital ER? Yes, what’s not explained in the posts above is that we all have something at stake if Obamacare fails and we don’t reform healthcare. If Obamacare fails, as is predicted in the above post, the only thing left is single-payer universal healthcare. The kind of healthcare that every other industrialized nation in the world already has. Obamacare? Collapse under its own weight? You’d damn well better hope it doesn’t!

  6. Andy says:

    Republicans say the insurance cancellation problem is outrageous. The latest estimates say between 4 and 7 million Americans will be seeing cancelation notices. The current count, as of today, is that about 4.8 million notices have gone out so far. Compared to the number of uninsured Americans at over 50 million, those who are underinsured and have policies that are not up to legitimate standards are but a fraction. Does the cancellation problem need to be fixed? Yes! But you can’t ignore the ten fold more Americans that never get to see a doctor except when they go to the hospital emergency room. It’s ironic (and purely political) that Republicans want to fix one and not the other.

  7. Jay says:

    I must say the political machine that is the US is very good at DIVIDING the UNITED states. I would also argue that certain other entities ( private and govt ) also have a vested, albeit likely “hidden” agenda, to keep the status quo.

    I think if everyone just focused on what I’m guessing everyone would AGREE on regarding health care, in general, ( below ) irrespective of party affiliation then true progress could potentially be achieved.

    Quality health care that is comprehensive <–key word.
    Affordable costs
    Efficient throughput/communication among healthcare organizations ( ie. avoid duplicating, triplicating, etc. )
    Realistic health outcome expectations ( both by healthcare workers/industry and public alike!)

    So, I think everyone would also agree that overhauling such a massive, complicated, convoluted, intertwined entity we call 'healthcare' between government/private policies in one fail swoop—probably not a great idea to embark on…not as one fail swoop.

    Unfortunately, polarizing the effort ( which is occurring by both sides ) is simply going to result in an incomplete, possibly even worse outcome in the SHORT term. LONG TERM viability and result could be achieved though unnecessary pain/suffering may have to peak before the actual final goal is realized.

    Of course, most of history ( ours and of other nations past and present ) would show that slow, deliberate change is the best method. I'm fairly certain this nation is partly "great" because, unlike any other ( maybe a growing rare others ) , it was founded on the ideal that everyone should have a fair chance at a decent lifestyle reflective of the effort that was invested in that pursuit. But also recognize that when you discuss the "health/prosperity" of a nation, it is essentially determined by the total pop ie even if the masses are not prosperus, the 1% wealthy would not be without the rest.

    So we are ALL in this together, it would be great if the discussion reflected this reality and, again assuming, mutual underlying goals regarding healthcare in general!

    Final thought/Rec: I encourage you all to listen to some T.E.D. talks regarding healthcare. I've not come across any true polarized presentations. I'm not affiliated with TED talks at all….but it's a wonderful example of what greatness could be achieved if we stop the bickering and truly come together for the sake of innovation leading to overall prosperity! Let's not "fall behind" other nations. ( insert National anthem song in your head here!)

    Thanks for your time.
    1/317 mil

  8. Rich says:

    “So we are ALL in this together, it would be great if the discussion reflected this reality and, again assuming, mutual underlying goals regarding healthcare in general!”

    Huh? If you listen to Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, they don’t see themselves as part of any solution that includes compromise. They’ve been pretty clear that if they don’t get 100 percent repeal of Obamacare, they will refuse to cooperate in any way. Reality has nothing to do with it. Mutual underlying goals? For Paul, Cruz and Lee, that’s mutiny! Any Republican that has any plans of compromising with Democrats will face a primary challenge. That’s a tea party promise!