The Obama administration is expected to announce yet another delay in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. According to reports from Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal, insurers will likely be allowed to continue selling non-compliant health policies for another 12 months.
The policies were originally meant to be discontinued in November, thanks to a last-minute reprieve from President Obama. Now, it appears that policyholders will be able to renew non-compliant plans again, meaning some policies could stay in place through 2016 depending on anniversary date.
“The administration has committed to doing all we can to smooth the transition for hard-working Americans,” Health and Human Services Department spokesperson Joanne Peters said in a statement. “We’ve taken steps already and are continuing to look at option. HHS said in November that we would consider extending the option for Americans to renew old plans beyond this year and we will provide final guidance on this issue soon.”
Wayne Sakamoto, president of Health Insurance Interactive in Naples, Florida, greeted the news with gratitude on the part of many of his clients who may not be able to afford a public exchange plan.
“I think the fact that people can keep the plan they have is a good thing, because they have that plan for a reason. It’s affordable and appropriate for their families,” said Sakamoto, who also works as communications chair with the Florida Association of Health Underwriters. “I have a client with a $10,000 deductible who called today, and I told her she may want to keep her plan because if she buys an ACA plan, her rates will likely be doubled.”
However, not all in the industry are pleased.
Massachusetts Association of Health Underwriters President David Shore believes the decision to extend non-compliant policies could wreak havoc on future health insurance rates.
“It is very important that we get those folks in,” Shore said in a conversation with Insurance Business. “There are rumblings about the effect ‘if you like it, you can keep it’ may have on premiums. Despite available subsidies, it’s expected that the consumers who will choose to retain current, non-ACA compliant coverage will be healthier than average, which could spell trouble for the remaining single risk pool for 2014 compliant plans.”
The decision is unlikely to affect a majority of producers and policyholders, however. Many states operating their own exchanges refused to allow insurers to renew the non-compliant plans, and the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that only about 5% of Americans will be able to renew.