Health care

Insurance commissioners raise concerns about Obama's health care fix

Can you really keep your plan?

 

State insurance regulators said Wednesday that President Obama's proposed fix for canceled health insurance policies has created uncertainty in the market and could lead to higher premiums.

A delegation of insurance commissioners met with the president on Wednesday in the Oval Office for nearly an hour to discuss his proposal to allow insurance companies to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled under ObamaCare. 

In a statement, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said the group "stressed their concern that different rules for different policies would be detrimental to the overall insurance marketplace and could result in higher premiums for consumers, without addressing the underlying concern of gaps in coverage."  

A chief concern among regulators and insurers is that changing the rules at this stage and allowing people to renew cheaper, lower-premium policies could upend the financial balance that the industry was trying to strike -- possibly resulting in higher premiums for others.   

Obama's proposal has created "a level of uncertainty that we must work together to alleviate," said Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, speaking for the organization.  

Most states are still weighing options on the president's proposed fix, though regulators in some states, including Washington, Vermont and Rhode Island, have said they won't allow policyholders to return to their old plans. 

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

Robertson said that 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.

Nationwide, more than 4 million people who buy their own insurance have gotten cancellation notices because their plans don't meet requirements of Obama's health law.

A new analysis of ObamaCare by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, concluded that as many as 100 million Americans could receive insurance policy cancellations next fall because their plans don't meet the law's requirements.

The analysis shows the Obama administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. They predict up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year. 

The business community has already been hit with another side effect from ObamaCare. Because the law will require businesses with more than 50 full-time workers to offer health coverage, there are reports that companies are shifting employees to part-time status to avoid hitting the threshold.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.