White House offers option for those who lost health coverage

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White House

(CNN) — The Obama administration will allow Americans who had their health insurance policies canceled due to the introduction of the Affordable Care Act an option to get new coverage or an exemption from the mandate that they buy insurance.

The change is aimed at preventing people who are losing their plans to at least get catastrophic coverage, if they want it and can afford it, so they don’t fall through the health care cracks at the start of the year.

For those who can’t afford it, the administration is holding out the possibility of a so-called hardship exemption from the requirement under Obamacare that Americans have insurance or pay a penalty.

“This is a commonsense clarification of the law. For the limited number of consumers whose plans have been canceled and are seeking coverage, this is one more option,” Health and Human Services spokesperson Joanne Peters told CNN.

Some Americans who held individual policies from private insurers began receiving cancellation notices this fall due to the fact that their coverage did not meet stepped up requirements of Obamacare.

The issue became a political hot potato for President Barack Obama, who repeatedly assured Americans when promoting his new health reforms that they could keep their old policies if they liked them better.

The controversy exacerbated the rocky October 1 roll out of the federal website, HealthCare.gov, where consumers can shop for and purchase insurance. Initial enrollment totals fell way short of projections. Although they have risen since, the site is not problem-free. It was down again on Friday.

The administration has tweaked its rules regarding the timeframe for consumers to purchase insurance. The deadline is Monday for coverage by January 1, and March 23 for coverage by the end of the year.

There are fewer than 500,000 people whose health insurance plans were canceled and haven’t yet signed up for new ones, administration officials said.

The latest change was supported by key moderates in the Senate — mostly Democrats, some of whom face tough reelection campaigns next year.

“As a result, this clarifies an option that will help those consumers who have had their plans canceled transition more smoothly into the marketplace. We will closely monitor how the administration implements this option, and we remain committed to proposing responsible solutions,” they said in a statement.

Republicans, who did not support the Affordable Care Act when it went through Congress in 2010, have sought to derail it since. They have made its most recent troubles the centerpiece of their campaigns against Democrats in midterm elections.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, called the new option a “fire sale of cheap insurance” that was an irresponsible approach for fixing a “broken program.”

Insurance companies also reacted negatively.

“This latest rule change could cause significant instability in the marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers,” said America’s Health Insurance Plans’ president and CEO Karen Ignagni.

The organization is a trade group for the insurance industry.

Administration officials said they expect an enrollment surge ahead of Monday’s sign-up deadline.

And while officials say enrollment appears “robust and strong” in December, they anticipate a drop-off in January, when a looming deadline isn’t spurring people to sign up.

The next spike, they say, will come in March, which is the last month Americans can enroll in insurance before being assessed a penalty.

1 Comment

  • James Stenzel

    Nice to see everyone is still missing “the point”. We’ve had our right to speedy/fair day-in-court prior to being punished for a violation of a law completely destroyed. “Oh, it’s okay—the IRS stopped you from going to the polls and voting so since it’s a tax-collection agency that’s alright”. Yes, sounds far-fetched doesn’t it? but since the Stupreme Court-jesters put their stamp of approval on the enforcement provision of this edict it’s become a lot more near-fetched. That this counter-Constitutional Obamination was visited upon us in service of forcing patronage of a certain well-healed-already PRIVATE INDUSTRIAL INTEREST mkes it even more obscene. My health insurance was eliminated by the underwriter—30 years ago. They were basically saying “we think we’ve gotten all the money out of you we can before there’s gong to be some sort of claim so kiss our a$$”. In the years since I’ve gotten myself in far better shape than I was ever moved to get into when I was “covered”. Doctors who do see me—very rarely—have to contend with their consciences over what their bill is gong to do to another human being–an individual just like them rather than the guilt-free experience of making another shark-hit on some faceless corporate entity. Personally I believe that is “good medicine” for what ails THEIR industry. You should all join me in holding their collective up-in-the-air noses and forcing them to take a big dose. “DO NOT SEEK THE TREASURE” ( translation: don’t let the IRS twist your arm behind your back and force you to purchase healthcare insurance). The Rx/quack Axis of Evil needs to learn to live within OUR means. You have all been conditioned to the concept of being forced to insure in order to partake of a licensed privilege ( driving ). Now that conditioning is being used to overcome your reticence to being induced to insure as a condition of your very existence. In case you are not noticing, this puts your very existence—your RIGHT TO LIVE—into the category of a LICENSED PRIVILEGE. Privileges can be rescinded…

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