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Obama administration allows people to stay on old plans longer

Health Care Reform and Policy
by Jacqueline Lee
Obama administration allows people to stay on old plans longer
Obama administration allows people to stay on old plans longer

Over the last few years the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has drawn considerable fire from its critics because of the ways in which it might not suit everyone's health care needs. As such the Obama administration has repeatedly made attempts to alter the law to be more flexible. The latest such change came last week when it was announced that consumers could keep the health insurance plans which did not meet federal minimums through Oct. 1, 2016.

In yet another change to the ACA, consumers will be allowed to renew their nonconforming health insurance policies if they choose to do so, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ideally this will help to increase the flexibility that people have when it comes to choosing their own coverage which best suits their needs.

Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, noted that this was a common-sense change to existing rules that allowed more Americans to ease into the new regulatory environment, the report said. The hope is that by releasing such guidelines at this time it will give consumers, employers, and insurance companies the ability to adapt as necessary to the coming changes.

Continuing a trend
This extension of coverage originally began in November 2013, when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter allowing the continuation of plans currently held by individuals and small groups that were not compliant with the federal minimums.  Originally, the ACA stated that all health insurance plans which did not meet minimum requirements would be canceled and that consumers affected by this change would simply have to shop for new coverage. However, there was a significant pushback from consumers, lawmakers, insurers, and more, which prompted the White House to change the law to be more palatable. Last week's announcement allowed for these "transitional plans" to continue through Oct. 1, 2016.  Interestingly though, the most recent government data suggests that only about 500,000 people nationwide still have policies that would not fit under the original guidelines.

Health insurers that want to help consumers continue to meet their care needs while also complying with the new federal law may want to reach out to these people as a means of guiding them for plans that will fit not only their medical concerns but also their unique financial situations.



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