Can North Carolinians Keep Their Canceled Policies?

According to President Obama, North Carolinians can now keep their “substandard” health insurance plan if they like it – for one more year.  According to state insurance commissioners, this might not be the case.

The Wall Street Journal writes:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said it welcomed the flexibility the announcement provided, and that it had already been exploring some options to satisfy customers who were told their plans were closing, according to a statement by Chief Executive Officer Brad Wilson.

But “implementing a change this close to when the new year starts would be challenging,” said Lew Borman, a spokesman for the North Carolina insurer, which learned the details of the change during Thursday’s announcement. “However, we want to do what we can to assist our customers who faced losing a plan they liked,” and all options are on the table, Mr. Borman said.

Other insurance commissioners have replied with a flat out ‘no’.

If individuals (especially the young, low-riskers ages 18-34) were to hold onto their plans for another year, then exchange premiums will spike even more for the high-risk population – the very population that the Obama Administration promises to deliver controllable health care costs.  If states do not allow consumers to renew their cancelled policies, many young and healthy citizens still probably won’t purchase exchange plans simply because they will be unaffordable.

Today’s Kaiser Health News reports:

Q: Given all the uncertainties, will many consumers seize the chance to renew?

That’ll depend on carriers, insurance commissioners and customers themselves. John Jaggi, a broker in Forsyth, Ill., knew of at least one client who would be interested.

Jaggi had just gotten off the phone with the customer, whose policy was due to be canceled and replaced by a more expensive one, when he heard about Obama’s idea.

The man is not eligible for health-law subsidies. Extending his existing coverage “will save him about $375 a month” in premiums, Jaggi said. “And his deductible was going to double.”

Whichever direction the insurance commissioners pursue, the chaos continues.

Katherine Restrepo / Director Of Healthcare Policy

Katherine Restrepo is the Director of Healthcare policy at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the John Locke Foundation, she interned at the Cato Institute under the di...