Insurance Industry Uneasy About Obama's Decision to Extend Health Plans

Insurance industry members and insurance commissioners have expressed concern about President Barack Obama's recent decision to allow health plan providers to continue offering individual coverage next year that doesn't meet the reform law's requirements.

Follow the president's announcement yesterday, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) President and CEO Karen Ignagni issued a statement saying extending plans that aren't grandfathered under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could lead to fewer younger and healthier people purchasing coverage through the health insurance exchanges, causing premiums to increase.

"Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers," Ms. Ignagni said in the statement.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners expressed similar concerns. NAIC President and Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon issued a statement saying it's unclear how the president's new policy can be put into effect, since cancellation notices have already gone out.

"This decision continues different rules for different policies and threatens to undermine the new market, and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond," Mr. Donelon said in the statement.

Originally, non-grandfathered policies — plans that went into effect or underwent certain changes after the PPACA became law in March 2010 — had to meet new coverage requirements in 2014. Under the PPACA, individual health plans must cover "essential benefits" such as prescription drugs, mental health services and maternity care. Insurers must also cap consumers' annual expenses.

Many insurers sent out cancellation notices to people enrolled in non-grandfathered individual plans that didn't meet these requirements. The development spurred Republicans to criticize President Obama, saying he had failed to keep his promise that Americans could keep their old health plans if they wanted under the PPACA.

President Obama will meet with health insurance executives today, according to a report from The Hill.

More Articles on Health Insurance Coverage:
President Obama: Health Insurers Don't Have to Cancel Current Plans
Anthem Blue Cross of California Extends 104k Canceled Policies
Obama Apologizes for Health Plan Cancellations Under PPACA 

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