Health Insurance Cancellations

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People With Canceled Health Insurance Policies Shifted to New Ones Without Permission

The Anthem Blue Cross headquarters in Woodland Hills. Kevin Kingma says the insurer rolled him into a new plan and deducted money from his bank account without his approval, a problem hundreds of consumers say they're having. (David McNew/Getty Images)

The Anthem Blue Cross headquarters in Woodland Hills. Kevin Kingma says the insurer rolled him into a new plan and deducted money from his bank account without his approval, a problem hundreds of consumers say they’re having. (David McNew/Getty Images)

By Charlie Ornstein, ProPublica

When Kevin Kingma received a letter last fall notifying him that his high-deductible health plan was being canceled because of the Affordable Care Act, he visited Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace and chose another plan beginning Jan. 1.

Thanks to a subsidy, Kingma’s monthly premium went down, from about $300 to $175, and his benefits improved.

But this month, Kingma, of the Bay Area city of El Cerrito, logged into his bank’s website and saw that his old insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, had deducted $587.40 from his account and had enrolled him in another of its insurance products for this year — he says without permission.

Hundreds of other consumers are caught in the same predicament, insurers acknowledge. And the California Department of Insurance said it is exploring whether any laws were broken when insurance companies withdrew money from consumers’ accounts for plans they didn’t select. Continue reading

Some With Canceled Insurance Happy About New Plans, Price

Jane Bradford and her family will save more than $400 a month on premiums, she says. (Photo Courtesy of Bradford Family)

Jane Bradford and her family will save more than $400 a month on premiums, she says. (Photo Courtesy of Bradford Family)

By Stephanie O’Neill, KPCC and Kaiser Health News

Barbara Neff of Santa Monica is one of the roughly 1 million Californians who recently got word that their health insurance coverage would be expiring soon. The canceled plans sparked a political firestorm as people realized President Barack Obama’s promise – “If you like your plan, you can keep it” — didn’t apply to everyone.

But Neff, a 46-year-old self-employed writer, isn’t outraged. She’s relieved. Even though she makes too much money to receive a subsidy to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the policy cancellation was good news for her.

Neff says she’s been stuck in a bad plan because treatment for a back problem years ago red-flagged her with a preexisting condition.

“The deductible has ranged anywhere from $3,000 to as high as $5,000, which means I have to spend that much each year before the insurance even kicks in,” she says. “I was rejected [from a more affordable policy] because I’d had a bout of sciatica five years previously that has never returned.” Continue reading

Canceled Insurance? Pre-ACA Plans Still Available, Could Save You Money

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Some Californians whose policies have been canceled are finding relief in a surprising place: from insurance companies that aren’t offering plans on the Covered California marketplace.

Earlier this year, Aetna announced it would bow out of the state’s individual market — effective Dec. 31. Cigna is staying, but is not offering any products on the exchange. Right now, both companies are accepting new customers into pre-ACA plans. Aetna plans are available to Costco members only until Dec. 15; Cigna is offering pre-ACA plans through Dec. 23.

Anne Gonzales, a Covered California spokeswoman, confirmed that a carrier not offering plans on Covered California “could offer a non-compliant plan through 12/31/2013 but it would need to become compliant when it renews next year.” So, consumers can enroll now, but when the policy comes up for renewal in 12 months, the plans would need to come into compliance with the ACA — and premiums would almost certainly go up.

Jason Andrew, CEO of Stone Meadow Benefits in Redwood City, says he has “tons of letters on my desk” from clients who have received notice that their policies were canceled. The policies they have been offered are “all more expensive and not as good of coverage,” he says. Continue reading

Can You Renew Your Policy? Nobody Knows Yet

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

President Obama announced Thursday morning that insurance companies now have the option to offer renewals to people whose plans were cancelled.

But that doesn’t mean insurance companies are required to take the president up on his offer.

Patrick Johnston, CEO of California Association of Health Plans, said in a statement that California “needs to stay the course and transition people into the more comprehensive policies that meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.”

He also pointed out that contracts with Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, “require all non-grandfathered health plans to be ACA compliant by 2014.”

But California’s insurance commissioner Dave Jones is taking the opposite approach. In a press conference, he said he asked Covered California on Thursday to release insurers from their contracts to cancel non-ACA compliant policies by Dec. 31. Continue reading

Insurance Canceled? Obama Now Says Companies Can Offer One-Year Renewals

President Barack Obama speaks on the Affordable Care Act in the White House briefing room. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama speaks on the Affordable Care Act in the White House briefing room. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bowing to pressure, President Barack Obama on Thursday announced changes to his health care law to give insurance companies the option to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled.

The administrative changes are good for just one year, though senior administration officials said they could be extended if problems with the law persist. Obama announced the changes at the White House.

The impact is unclear. While insurance companies will be able to offer people renewals, companies are not required to do so.

“This fix won’t solve every problem for every person, but it’s going to help a lot of people,” the president said.

He acknowledged that “we fumbled the rollout of this health care law” and pledged to “just keep on chipping away at this until the job is done.”

He also promised to work to regain the trust of the American people.

“I think it’s legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law in particular and on a whole range of these issues in general,” he said. Continue reading