Yesterday, the New York Times reported that only the Kentucky, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington state exchanges enable consumers to search for the providers covered in the various plans. This is a critical piece of information for consumers because so many of the particularly lower cost plans were able to develop lower rates by excluding wide swaths of doctors and hospitals. A consumer would be foolish to buy a health plan without knowing which doctors and hospitals it covers!
Washington state appears to be off to a very clean start. They are saying they have finalized enrollment for about 25,000 lives––most in Medicaid. They also say another 37,000 have completed insurance exchange applications that are awaiting premium payments due in December. Washington has about 1 million uninsured and another 200,000 in the individual market. So, they appear to be on their way to enrolling about 5% of their potential market in both Medicaid and the exchange. That likely says something about where exchanges would be if they had not had the problems.
“Let me be exactly clear about what health care reform means to you,” Obama said at one rally in July 2009. “First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”
But the president’s promise is turning out to be false for millions of Americans who have had their health insurance policies canceled because they don’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Laszewski suggested comparing Washington state’s health exchange experience to that of the federal exchange in the coming months, and the many states running their own exchange who also had problems, will be helpful in understanding just how damaging this start was.
The U.S. individual health insurance market currently totals about 19 million people. Because the Obama administration’s regulations on grandfathering existing plans were so stringent about 85% of those, 16 million, are not grandfathered and must comply with Obamacare at their next renewal. The rules are very complex. For example, if you had an individual plan in March of 2010 when the law was passed and you only increased the deductible from $1,000 to $1,500 in the years since, your plan has lost its grandfather status and it will no longer be available to you when it would have renewed in 2014.
These 16 million people are now receiving letters from their carriers saying they are losing their current coverage and must re-enroll in order to avoid a break in coverage and comply with the new health law’s benefit mandates––the vast majority by January 1. Most of these will be seeing some pretty big rate increases.
But unless they live in Washington state, Nevada, Colorado, and Kentucky, they can’t now get on an exchange site to see their plan options, new prices, and provider directories so they can make an informed decision before they lose their coverage.
Read More: healthpolicyandmarket.blogspot.com