At least one insurance company will let Kentuckians keep their health insurance plan for another year if they like it

By Molly Burchett
Kentucky Health News

At least one insurance company, Humana, will be allowing Kentuckians to keep their insurance coverage for another year if they like it, even if the policies aren’t compliant with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Partially owning up to his reforms’ rocky rollout last week, President Obama said people whose policies were being cancelled because they didn’t comply with the law could renew their policies for another year — if insurance companies are willing to do so and state regulators allow it. Kentucky is among the states allowing them to do so, and Humana is going along.

Humana — and Anthem Blue Cross, if it follows suit — will be required to tell such policyholders “what protections these renewed plans don’t include” and that they have alternatives that may be better and cheaper on insurance exchanges, Obama said.

“Humana has been educating people about the full range of options, including the ability to retain their current coverage, in accordance and coordination with state law,” a Humana spokesperson told Kentucky Health News. An Anthem spokesperson said the company is still reviewing its options.

About 280,000 Kentuckians — almost all those in individual and small-group insurance market — faced policy discontinuation, requiring them to get different insurance coverage.

Experts say there are a number of obstacles that could keep insurers from letting customers renew old policies, including the concern that the risk pools of the state’s health-insurance exchange will be skewed. And, insurers will have to calculate how much they plan to charge for policies that were going to be discontinued.

“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,” Karen Ignagni, the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying group, told The New York Times.

Some insurers say the president’s move is adding to the confusion that surrounds the health-care law and adding uncertainty to the insurance market. This may discourage participation from a key group, young and healthy people who are needed to make insurance exchanges sustainable, reports The Washington Post.

There is doubt that insurance companies can do all of this in less than a month to ensure coverage is in place by Jan. 1. It is unclear how, as a practical matter, the changes proposed by the president can be put into effect, National Association of Insurance Commissioners President Jim Donelon said last week. And, even if they do, the proposed changes only last a year.

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