Health Care In The States

Covered California To Canceled Policy Holders: You’ll Have To Buy A New Plan

By Sarah Varney

November 21st, 2013, 10:45 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California did not take President Obama up on his offer to extend canceled health policies.  The five-member board that oversees California’s health insurance marketplace, known as Covered California, voted unanimously Thursday to stay the course and cancel policies that didn’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

The board’s decision had been widely anticipated, but at the public hearing in Sacramento there was an audible sigh of relief by consumer advocates and insurance company representatives when the vote became clear.

The Affordable Care Act had required health plans to cancel about 1 million policies in California that didn’t meet the new rules of the law, including bans on lifetime caps for medical expenses and products that didn’t cover hospitalizations.

The board seemed leery of stripping away those consumer protections to aid what amounts to the 1-percent of Californians – or about 295,000 people –  who are facing rate increases and don’t qualify for federal financial aid. Of those policyholders, about half have what are considered “thin” plans, insurance policies with skimpy benefits. They are expected to face significant increases, according to state officials.

The board also expressed concern that extending canceled policies would confuse consumers even more than they already are and disrupt the surge in enrollment in Covered California. Anthony Wright, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Health Access, said the state needed to provide targeted financial relief to those affected “but you don’t want to lose the momentum for the millions and millions of people who could get benefits.”

These are the difficult trade-offs, said Covered California board member Dr. Bob Ross during the public meeting. “We are in moving from a dizzying and discriminatory health insurance system to one that is not perfect, but is greatly improved.”

Instead, the board voted to give consumers an additional week, until December 23rd , to sign up for new coverage, and beginning next Monday, consumers with canceled policies will have a special hot line staffed by experts to try to ease the transition.

Not everyone applauded the vote. The state’s insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, who has no authority over the exchange, had pressed the board to allow policyholders to renew their existing plans. He said consumers would be forced to lose their preferred doctors and hospitals and face higher premiums.

Jones has extended canceled policies for about 184,000 Californians who had plans under his jurisdiction from Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Shield.

2 Responses to “Covered California To Canceled Policy Holders: You’ll Have To Buy A New Plan”

  1. Cherie Nash-Smith, PharmD says:

    I agree with Dave Jones. I have had a Blue Shield plan of one kind or another from 5 of my employers; I work 2 to 3 employers at at time.

    Blue Shield has been a reputable company!

    Obamacare should be repealed for not meeting any of it’s own requirements and Rep Devin Nunes’s plan ( or something similar) should replace Obamacare. I have seen grass roots petitiions for impeaching Obama. That sounds best to me.

    Governor Jerry Brown and all high speed rail supporters should be voted out of office also. That train cannot go 200mph with as many stops that are needed and they have exceeded in consultation fees alone what the voters approved.

    Although I have spoken to CoveredCA and have received paperwork from them, I will not be completing their process because I fully understand the costs of losing my current Blue Shield health plan and loss of my choice of doctors and hospitals I currently resigned with Blue Shield through COBRA and will pay a penalty if need be if politicians keep shoving their health plan vision down my throat. CoveredCA should start subtracting people from the program as success rates unless and until they have received payment for the plans they offer.

    I would vote to impeach OBama before I would support The Unaffordable Health Care Act in it’s current form. I want Hillary Clinton back when she first started working on this issue. I hope we see a female president very soon (Hillary would be great, Oprah would be better). I would like to see Obama out of office before his term expires.

    I have been a practicing pharmacist since graduating from USC School Of Pharmacy with my doctorate in 1981.

    Cherie Nash-Smith, PharmD
    PO Box 26693
    Fresno, CA 93729

  2. Jorge Sanchez says:

    I will never vote for another California Democrat for as long as I live…which may not be long since you took away my health insurance and gave me nothing tenable at to replace it