The Republican-backed measure would allow insurance companies to continue selling policies that don't meet the legal standards laid out in the Affordable Care Act - not only to those who lost their policies, but to new customers as well.
Thursday, President Obama said canceled policies could be extended for one year. So far, nearly five million Americans have been told their insurance plan would be canceled because they don't meet the standards of the new law.
Springfield insurance agent Trevor Croley is here now to explain what that all means for you.
Q: Basically the president is giving people one more year on their current policies- even if those policies don't meet the new ACA standards. Correct?
A: Yes. Obviously, this is probably going to be discussed for the next month or so. But most health carriers have already made provisions to allow people to keep it. So, the timeline was you received that notice that said 'we're terminating your policy because it didn't meet the guidelines of the ACA.' Then, very quickly, they were to follow up, usually, with a renewal letter. Now, not all carriers did this but a lot of them did. And so that option is still available for you to renew those policies through the end of the year. What that would do is push it back until maybe December 2014, when everyone would have to comply.
Q: So if I have a policy through my work, is it likely to already comply with ACA and I will be able to keep it?
A: It's a good question, and really there's not a straight answer. So, if there's a question about this, you need to talk to your human resource department or visit with your insurance agent. But basically, it's the same theory that most of the group plans, especially for smaller employers - they're renewing those policies in December. That will buy them a year. After this year period of time, they'll have to fall into the ACA requirements. Unfortunately, what we're seeing is the premiums are also probably higher as well. If your company doesn't do that and you are renewing in January, those plans still have to meet the ACA requirements. Also, the individual mandate is still out there, so you'll still have to do something by March. So the individual mandate is still part of that.
Q: If you have a policy you purchased on your own, I assume it's the same thing - just check again to make sure it's meeting those ACA standards, right?
A: I think the smart advice for anybody out there right now is, despite what may have been been said or what wasn't said - we don't really know yet - it would be better to just check with your insurance company. I'm sure they're cringing, thinking, 'oh, this guy is telling everybody to call us today.' But it's really in your best interest to see 1) do I need to early-renew this policy, do I have the ability to keep it. If you don't, you can always get it on the open marketplace through one of the exchanges or even off exchange. But the mandate is still there to get it.
Q: And as you mentioned before - these higher premiums are there as well. It's the million dollar question - 'how much am I going to be paying?' They are going up.
A: There's not a straight answer. I will tell you, we've had more calls from people asking how much more. And it is significant. You're going to be a little shocked. We'll all have to fall into this, eventually. But you can do this fairly easily. Go shopping online. Put in a rate in December on a site like Anthem.com or Coventryhelp.com.
You can see what the rates are in 2013 and what they are in 2014 and compare. You still have time to actually buy a policy in 2013.
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