White House expected to OK another ACA extension

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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.
  • Maria on 3/5/2014 2:52:56 PM

    Will it never end? What carrier would even accept this? Makes no sense at all.

  • MIchael@noydins.com on 3/5/2014 2:53:51 PM


  • Dan Keel on 3/5/2014 2:54:45 PM

    Only causes more confusion to the already confused.

  • Cheryl on 3/5/2014 3:09:41 PM

    I say repeal the whole thing and start over. It is obvious this plan was not thought out and certainly only benefits a few Americans. Let us keep our plans and look for a resolution for those who have no insurance or pre-existing conditions. Leave the rest of us alone, please.

  • Pauline on 3/5/2014 3:10:27 PM

    I have no problem with them extending these dates. The site is not well oiled even now. My comment is the ones who need insurance at not just the unhealthy but healthy ones who cannot afford the prices of 2013 or 2014 so the subsidies are helping them. Don't assume it is only healthy people not signing up; it is people confused and also people who tried to apply on their own and got thrown out of the site with errors messages and who gave up. Applying on the exchange is not very user friendly nor is it a "streamlined one step simple" application. For example to edit a birthdate error, it cycled through the entire eligibility application. And today the site did this four times without ever giving the option to change the actual date. Then we get told you have to make out a whole new application. Crazy stuff. And in one place it asks if you had Medicaid coverage that changed but then it asks it differently in another place where it is coverage from medicaid changed and your income did not change, which changes the answer. Then it asks if you agree you are not incarcerated but does this in such a way that it is confusing. Just say incarcerated yes or no.

    If the site is having problems now on the 5th, what will happen on the 15th and the end of the month??? Fix the problems and more people will sign up. Publicize that agents can help and more people will sign up. Make people very aware that the lowest premiums are bronze but they have to pay all their deductibles first. And that silver value plans may not include their doctors in network. Some people will be in shock over these details. Another reason to encourage them to get help from agents.

  • Susan Buske on 3/5/2014 3:13:17 PM

    This is a good thing in Tennessee. The premiums for ACA are triple what 2013 premiums were. There is also a gap between the minimum income for the exchange and Tennessee Medicaid eligibility requirements. If people can keep the cheaper plan, that's great.

  • Paul on 3/5/2014 3:14:01 PM

    Why would the insurance companies want to maintain old/non compliant plans - more work and more cost. They are moving forward and can charge more - so guess what - they will not allow you to keep your old plan - even if Obama says they can allow it. Why would they!!

  • David on 3/5/2014 3:17:50 PM

    And we wouldn't want a completely angry public until after the next two election cycles, now would we???

  • r on 3/5/2014 3:18:54 PM


  • Doug on 3/5/2014 3:39:00 PM

    Exactly David, the political "timeliness" of these changes makes me sick. If the law was written and passed by a non-partisan vote(not one Republican voted for it) and Democrats are boasting of how great it is, then why does the President change it every month? The Insurance industry is struggling to adhere to a law that the President changes whenever he feels like it.

  • nfd on 3/5/2014 3:46:41 PM

    oh, it's all so depressingly predictable isn't it?...now, as the March 31st deadline approaches and the malfunctioning exchange sites meltdown more and more as the logjam builds and builds, the next shoe to drop will be the extension of the window until April 30, then May, than blah blah ad nauseum

  • Brad on 3/5/2014 3:52:33 PM

    Working with clients and prospects, I have yet to meet one consumer that understood anything about Obamacare, on group or individual...and these types of delays are heaping on top of the mass confusion out there. This is simply the most ridiculous law ever passed, pass it - scrap half of it, delay the other half and keep trying to convince America it's good for them.

  • Lee on 3/5/2014 4:00:26 PM

    For those who suggest Obamacare is failure or only helps a relatively small number of Americans...YOU ARE WRONG. As a Fin Advisor, I'm on front line everyday with clients. Yes, there initially were some fits and spurts, but it appears these issues have been corrected. This program helps single folks making $13000 a year as well as family of four with HH income $86000 a year.

  • Dave S on 3/5/2014 4:00:59 PM

    The Obama Administration, continues to deflect responsibility towards others. It will be the carriers who say no and then the administration can say, well we made the offer to keep your current plan, but your carrier said no.

  • Mary Ann on 3/5/2014 4:11:05 PM

    Wouldn't it make more sense to subsidize the health care facilities that treat uninsured people? The federal government has no business running any program as they can't seem to quit spending money they don't have. Eventually this will all come back to haunt us all.

  • Janice F on 3/5/2014 4:15:51 PM

    The government should never have been allowed to make anyone get rid of a plan they liked and purchase coverage they don't want. The Executive Branch should not be allowed to change the law anytime they want, but our legislators keep allowing it to happen and we the people aren't screaming at the legislators. Anybody read "Insurance Companies as We Know Them Are About to Die" by E. Emanuel who I believe is one of the architects of Obamacare.

  • Lee on 3/5/2014 4:17:04 PM

    If you're just so totally confused, seek out a financial advisor to help you. Google one. Yeah...its that easy.

  • Cindy on 3/5/2014 4:29:59 PM

    What about the plans that were non-renewed effective 1-1-14? Do we get that coverage back now that we have been forced to buy plans with less coverage, and more expensive? I'm sure California will not agree to this. This whole ACA has been a horrible mess.

  • Bob on 3/5/2014 4:31:38 PM

    I've been a financial adviser for 37 years and I have found that this law has hurt way more people than the few it has helped

  • Cindy on 3/5/2014 4:32:41 PM

    What a nightmare! I lost my own policy effective 1-1-14 and was forced to buy an alternate plan at more money and less coverage. Do you think California is going to agree to go back to January 2014 and re-offer those policies. I don't think so. The ACA is my opinion has been a total wreck!

  • Bob on 3/5/2014 4:35:06 PM

    I have been an adviser for 37 years and contrary to what Lee stated my experience has been that this law has hurt most people and help very and it's only going to get worse.

  • Lori on 3/5/2014 4:56:36 PM

    I sell group and individual insurance and this has been a nightmare for agents. I have people that were insured going without since they can't afford an ACA clomplient plan. I also have employers dropping their health insurance programs and telling their employees to go to the exchanges. It's been a really tough year.

  • Joe on 3/5/2014 5:15:54 PM

    ACA plan it self is non-sense. I hope Republican wins next election and over turn this Obama care thing...

  • Kathy on 3/5/2014 5:59:50 PM

    I have been struggling with the exchange just like most agents but overall most of my clients have come away with fantastic deals. I have had less than a handful of employers drop coverage in favor of the exchange and those that did so did at my recommendation because it made sense.
    People love their cheap plans until they need comprehensive medical coverage. I personally chose not to sell limited benefit plans because I never believed that someone would remember that their coverage only covered $10,000 towards cancer treatment if they needed chemotherapy. I don't care how many disclaimers you have people sign they don't understand the ramifications of their decisions.
    Government regulates the safety of our cars, houses, and many other aspects of our lives. Ensuring that people are getting true coverage is a good thing.
    The extension is being granted to control public outcry just like Congress changing the flood insurance rules to pacify their constituents. Why should someone who builds a home in a flood plain be entitled to " tax subsidized" flood insurance. Maybe if they had to pay the true cost of flood insurance they would choose not to build or live in a flood plain. All Politicians try to pass laws that help get them re elected.

  • Phil on 3/5/2014 6:13:00 PM

    The ever moving target of the ACA. Consulting employer group decision makers couldn't be more difficult. Oh and that's with the brokers and agents commissions being slashed with more work than ever. The carriers while trying to stay within the MLR have just shifted all of the administrative tasks to their agents and support staff. Get in line at the unemployment office. That's where we're all destined if there aren't any greeter jobs left at Walmart. It's a shame. Employers and their employees need more help than ever before..who will be there for them? The IRS? The HHS? The CMS? Or a toll free number to our Prez's office? Hard to say.

  • David on 3/5/2014 7:30:32 PM

    Sorry, Kathy. I agree the extension is being made so Dems can avoid the consequences of a truly ugly law. Lee, I sold my first comprehensive major medical back in 1988. So I have plenty of experience. I would agree that it has helped lower income earners get enrolled in Medicaid as in our state, the overwhelming majority of enrollees have been into the Medicaid program. But, I have low middle income earners that are having their kids enrolled in Medicaid and they are forced to do so if they want any subsidy for their own. And, the true premium cost of the coverage has gone up substantially. The reality is this is a plan to move toward a single payer system or a hybrid system where the government is in fact in charge of your heath care. There was a great article yesterday on the guy who engineered Obamacare, Emmanuel, and he came right out and said the purpose of it was to force insurance companies out of business and drive people toward government run "Accountable Care Associations" which are in fact the "death panels" we were joking about a few years ago...sorry, this is a major catastrophic move toward socialism and it will have drastically bad consequences.

  • Metrius on 3/5/2014 8:44:41 PM

    I love the idea of keeping my current plan for another year!

  • Pete on 3/6/2014 9:42:47 AM

    Isn't it interesting that this wonderful,affordable( ha ha ) compassionate program has to continually be delayed to offer "relief"?!

  • Todd on 3/6/2014 12:02:15 PM

    I agree with David. The ACA is intended to fail so that the government take control of health care with a Medicare for all program. The real reason is so that politicians can then take money from the program, issue an IOU and then buy votes with some other expanded program. The Democrats own this fiasco entirely and should pay for it in the elections. The problem is that too many voters keep voting for Santa Claus and don't/can't see how bad this program is for the country. Obama and the Democrats have ruined one sixth of the economy to help less than 10% of the population who had no insurance. How stupid is that?

  • Laura on 3/6/2014 12:15:31 PM

    The biggest problem with the ACA for our clients is regarding the networks of the compliant individual plans. Many major hospitals in California and many of our local doctor groups in Central Cal are not accepting ANY individual ACA plans as of this month, only GF and group. This is a huge debacle.

  • Joe L. on 3/6/2014 12:26:45 PM

    So, a carrier plays ball with the President and offers non-ACA compliant plans. Consumer A buys the less expensive, non-compliant plan. Consumer A later has a claim/service rejected that is not covered under the non-compliant plan, but would have been covered under a compliant plan, and sues to have the claim covered. The carrier will then seek to defend its proper decision - by enforcing an illegal, non-compliant contract. Now THAT'S a good position to be in!
    A very good an honorable objective, but a terrible, poorly written and poorly administered piece of legislation. We'll be mired in this for decades.
    Far, far more harm than good.

  • Tom Briggs on 3/14/2014 9:42:16 AM

    This thing is a real mess. The gov should have expanded Medicare for the unemployed, under employed and the self-employed based on wage or net earned income and charged a payroll tax of 1% on every worker with a 1% employer match. This would put Medicare in the black and leave everyone an incentive to earn more or find a better job with a private health insurance plan.....The current plan will not work and will cost far more than this alternative.

  • Kathy on 3/14/2014 12:53:39 PM

    Tom - I am not sure that Medicare would be a good option for the un and underemployed. I am assuming your example is basing Medicare eligibility on wage or net earned income. A problem with Medicare for low income individuals is that it can be expensive coverage.
    Medicare Part A is free only to those individuals that have worked 40 quarters. People in their 20s or 30s may not have reached this threshold. For anyone without 40 quarters the premium for Part A is close to $500 per month.
    The premium for Medicare Part B is $104 per month.
    Medicare Part D has a premium associated with participation as well. Cheap premium plans usually have a high deductible up to $350 per individual. The infamous donut hole is not yet closed. Individuals need to spend over $4,000 out of pocket before there is catastrophic coverage.
    Medicare, by itself, is not good coverage. That is why there are Medicare supplements. The other option is Medicare Advantage with lower premiums than Medicare Supplements but potential high out of pocket costs.
    The low income individuals I have worked with are getting much better coverage through the exchange with the subsidies and cost sharing.

  • Tom Briggs on 3/14/2014 3:42:21 PM

    Let me make my self clear concerning my prior comment. To cover the uninsured and unemployed, under-employed and low wage unemployed my suggestion was to develope a new plan that would treat these uninsureds much like we cover the seriously disabled under medicare and avoid the 40 quarter requirement taxing everyone in the system including employers with a 1% payroll tax under OASDHI. It would require some additional legislation however the system is in place and functioning and a good deal better than this ACA Plan. Come on, can't we think outside the box? It is so obvious what the authors of ACA had in mind. This is a disaster and I almost think it was designed to be this way. I continue to be amazed in it's poor design.

  • Kathy on 3/14/2014 5:07:48 PM

    Tom - I am all for thinking outside the box but I will stand by my comments. People on Medicare disability still have to pay the Part B and Part D premiums. They then have to go out and supplement the Medicare coverage either by moving to Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Supplement plus Part D.
    I have worked with people on Medicare Disability and the costs of Medicare eat up what little income they have. Most would be better off with a subsidy and cost sharing.
    Prior to ACA Montana did not have any company selling a supplement to under age 65 Medicare participants. The only option for these individuals was Medicare Advantage or the state Carve Out plan. The Carve Out plan was discontinued with guaranteed issue coverage and the state's Insurance Commissioner forced all insurers offering Medicare supplements in the state to make them available to the under 65 market. The rates for under 65 are more than double the age 65 rate.
    Round numbers here but $104 for Part B, $350 for Plan F, $12 for Part D per month.
    On the exchange - someone at 100% of poverty will pay approx. $20 per month for a cost sharing Silver Plan. Cost sharing will provide them with a plan at 94% actuarial value. In Montana there is a plan with no deductible and $500 maximum out of pocket. Rx applies to the out of pocket limit.
    The rollout of the exchange was a disaster and I sincerely wish that Montana would have opted to develop our own instead of relying on the Federal government. The insurance companies got very creative with plan designs within the metallic levels. Guaranteed issue is fabulous. Not carving commissions out of the MLR not so good but according to a study done by Kaiser Family Foundation the MLR has worked to keep premiums in check.
    My thought has always been to keep the good and fix the problems.

  • Todd on 3/14/2014 5:34:22 PM

    Tom, I'm sure it was designed to fail. This way the liberals can blame the big bad insurance companies for their stupidity and then declare that the system has to be changed to a single payer new Federal program. They can then raid the trust funds like they have to Social Security and Medicare to fund more entitlement programs. That way the liberals can be assured of getting re-elected.

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