Insurance companies, commissioner examining options following ObamaCare announcement

Nov 16, 2013

About 5,000 health insurance plans from PacificSource set to be cancelled are eligible for one more year if the company decides to extend them.
Credit Dan Boyce

Montana Insurance companies are looking over their options after President Obama’s Thursday announcement regarding the Affordable Care Act. The President said some insurance plans about to be cancelled for not following the new healthcare law will be allowed to continue for one more year.

Montana’s Insurance commissioner said the announcement throws years of planning for ObamaCare into a tailspin.

The President’s announcement was his effort to make good on a promise he made while fighting for passage of the Affordable Care Act--a promise saying if people like their current health insurance plan they will be able to keep it if the act is implemented. That turned out not to be true. In Montana alone, about 26,000 insurance plans were slated to end for not complying with Obamacare—that is to say they weren’t generous enough to meet the law’s minimum benefits.

So the President now says people with those stripped-down plans can now be grandfathered-in for one more year. Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen is not happy.

“While it sounds OK, it’s much more complicated than that,” she said.

Montana Insurance plan rates need to be approved by Lindeen’s office.

All of these plans were going to end—so if they are going to continue the companies have to put forward new proposals to her office. The rates might need to be higher.

“They haven’t figured out what that new rate would be, they haven’t filed that new rate with my office, we haven’t reviewed that rate and we’re 45 days out from January one,” she said.

Lindeen says it’s not possible to think those plans could be reviewed and approved in that time.

About 13,500 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana plans were going to end.

Spokesman John Doran says the company is considering the implications.

“If we make the decision to continue offering 2013 plans beyond 2014 then we have a lot to do in a short amount of time,” Doran said.

“You know, we’ve been moving along this course and to have it change so quickly and to try to figure that out, I think it does throw  everything on its head,” said Vice President of Montana PacificSource Todd Lovshin.

PacificSource has about 5,000 health insurance plans that were going to be dropped. Lovshin said his company is looking to Lindeen’s office for direction.

“Our legal analysis is we cannot make that decision,” Lindeen said. “The insurance company is going to have to make the decision.”

Lindeen suggested individuals with the would-be cancelled insurance plans should start to look through the plans offered on the Obamacare marketplace

She said in most cases federal subsidies would allow these people to get better plans at lower costs.