Keeping Your Plan -- Update

While it's true that it's pretty late to expect insurance companies to reverse course on policy cancellations that have been in the works for months if not years, it's also true that in a crisis, motivated people can find a way through the red tape:
It’s worth noting the California insurance commissioner is forcing two insurers to reverse cancellations for hundreds of thousands of individual market plan enrollees, and the insurers are reluctantly complying to keep people in their plans beyond January 1.  In that case, operational issues were not impossible to overcome. 
Insurers respond by noting that it generally takes months to have insurance regulators approve their rates before offering plans in the marketplace.  While true, that does not mean that the regulators would not act much more quickly in a crisis.  Indeed, there should be no doubt that, if the Upton legislation were to become law, there would be great pressure on the state regulators and the insurance industry to do whatever it takes to keep these plans open.  The same political firestorm that is propelling the Upton legislation through Congress would force the states and insurers to be responsive also to the plight of the enrollees in the cancelled plans.
It's amazing what can get done if the insurance regulators want it to happen.


E Hines said...

It's amazing what can get done if the insurance regulators want it to happen.

Especially if they're willing to commit extortion and/or to selectively ignore inconvenient parts of the law.

Eric Hines

DL Sly said...

Here in Montana Blue Cross has graciously decided to not impose a forecasted 3.5% increase on all policies this Jan 1st. Granted, that's because Montana's Constitution won't let them change things like that mid-term, but that's not why they say they are doing it. It's "for the children"....or something.

raven said...

It won't help us anyway - our provider has simply stopped offering heath insurance. "Period."

Cass said...

So *that's* what "period" means!

Sorry, I know this isn't funny for you, Raven. But I couldn't resist.

Texan99 said...

What always worried me most about Obamacare was the likelihood that it would drive insurers out of business, and erect huge barriers to entry for any new insurers -- thus leaving everyone with no options but Big Brother to protect themselves against large, unpredictable medical bills.

Allowing insurance to be sold across state lines might help eventually. But the damage from this law is huge, and it may be a long, long time before much of it is remedied.

E Hines said...

But the damage from this law is huge, and it may be a long, long time before much of it is remedied.

I'm less worried about the damage than I am about getting the law and associated regulations repealed (and not so associated--there are a host of labor, EPA, etc regulations in the way, too), not just the law gutted by an Upton bill. Free markets are remarkably quick to repair damage, fill niches, fill whole voids.

Eric Hines

Elise said...

I saw Obama's announcement yesterday and my first thought was relief that I didn't need to worry about doing early renewal: I'd just keep my current policy until my anniversary date in Spring 2014 and then re-enroll in it for another year.

Then I realized that Obama could just as well decide on January 2 or February 23 or March 13 to change the rules again and *not* allow people to keep their plans through 2014.

This is insane. And I feel a sudden urge to run out and buy a bunch of bananas.

Texan99 said...

I agree. Temporary executive fixes paralyze the market, which is already damaged enough. It's like the constant short-term tinkering with tax levels. People need to have some certainty so they can plan. I'm not convinced insurers will extend existing plans at the last minute on a very temporary basis. The president's temporary discretionary fix is just a way of blaming the insurers for what his law is doing.

We'll see whether Congress buys this approach. Also, I welcome the discussions, because ACA proponents are forced to explain in public that the whole law depends on forcing people out of their existing individual plans and onto more expensive exchange plans.