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Nation/World

December 27, 2013

Reversal on cancellations elicits mixed response

(Continued)

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois said it would seek undefined price changes.

Raleigh attorney Jeff Poley, 42, says he is fine with paying more for his current policy, considering what it would have cost him to switch to a new one. He has been covered with a high-deductible health policy from Blue Cross for the past two years, which currently costs $137 a month. The plan does not cover maternity and some other benefits required under the Affordable Care Act.

When he initially received a cancellation notice, Blue Cross said the closest plan that met all of the new federal requirements would cost nearly twice as much.

But after Obama’s announcement, Blue Cross offered to extend Poley’s old plan for another year at $170 a month. His wife is covered by a policy through her law firm.

“I was glad for the one-year reprieve, but I would still like a permanent fix because I don’t need abortion coverage, I don’t need maternity coverage,” said Poley, who said he exercises vigorously about six days a week. “We as a family had made that choice, and we are two intelligent people who know better what’s good for our family than the government does.”

About 15 million Americans buy policies as individuals, according to Families USA, a nonprofit organization that backs health reform. Before Obama’s announcement, insurers sent at least 4.7 million policy cancellation notices, according to a tally by the AP. The number is likely much higher because officials in nearly 20 states said they were unable to provide information on cancellation notices or were not tracking it.

Sabrina Corlette, project director at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University, warns that Obama’s decision last month could allow younger people with relatively few health problems to stay on bare-bones policies. That could lead to higher premiums in 2015 to offset insurers’ cost of covering people with more health problems, she said.

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