News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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November 21, 2013

Indiana insurance chief: Plans will stay canceled

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Insurance Commissioner Stephen Robertson said Wednesday he will not ask insurers to restore plans canceled because of the federal health care law.

President Barack Obama did an about-face earlier this month when he said insurance companies would be allowed to offer plans that do not meet minimum requirements set out in the federal health care law. Obama’s announcement followed weeks of criticism as people began receiving insurance cancellation notices, contradicting his oft-repeated promise that people would be able to keep their insurance plans under the new law.

But in many states, like Indiana, insurance companies have already phased out the old, individual plans, and re-establishing them would be a lengthy process. Robertson added Indiana to a growing list of states, including Maryland, Rhode Island and others, that have decided it would be too much trouble to meet the president’s new request.

“President Obama has asked that Indiana compel insurance companies who choose to do business in our state to reinstate carefully phased-out policies at a moment’s notice. Such action would seriously destabilize Indiana’s insurance market and create logistical chaos, fueling even more uncertainty for Hoosiers,” Robertson said in a statement Wednesday.

Robertson said insurers have spent months phasing out old plans and that he cannot force them to restore the canceled plans. The state estimates 108,000 residents lost coverage because of the new law.

The canceled plans are the latest wrinkle in a flawed start to the core of the health law. Troubles with the online federal exchange have persisted since it opened, causing extensive delays for residents in Indiana and other states that opted not to set up their own marketplace.

Insurers and federal and state regulators have spent years now preparing for the start of the core of the health care law: the mandate that people have health insurance and the creation of the insurance exchanges, also called marketplaces.

At the core of the latest trouble were rules established on what must be covered by each plan to meet federal requirements. Individual plans, which did not meet those minimum requirements, were canceled.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield spent all year readying plans for Indiana that meet the new requirements and preparing residents on the old plans to find new coverage, said spokesman Tony Felts.

“We had filed new products with the Department of Insurance, new insurance plans that comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act so we withdrew those non-compliant plans in 2013,” he said.

 

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