The President yesterday capped off a wild week of news on the individual health insurance market, announced a White House policy reversal that would allow health insurers to permit policyholders to keep their current plans through the end of 2014.
This follows recent announcements in California, where Blue Shield of California, and Anthem Blue Cross policyholders were required to offer policyholders the option to keep their current plans through March 31, 2014 (Blue Shield) or February 28, 2014 (Anthem), as previously reported on this blog.
Note the emphasis on the words “allow” and “require.” Neither the President nor the California Insurance Commissioner has the power to require the insurance carriers to abide by the President’s direction. It is my belief that the carriers will not (and should not) acquiesce, lest they throw the entire individual market into flux, with the potential for premiums throughout the entire market to spiral for everyone as we approach 2015. Most news media report similarly: LA Times, SF Business Times, plus editorials at USA Today and the Chicago Tribune. Also, a good Q&A at the LA Times.
Perhaps even worse, it will put individual policyholders in a state of paralysis – there are millions of Californians who must make decisions in the next few weeks to ensure they have coverage that works for them in 2014.
With this in mind, I have put together a strategy guide for individual and family policyholders. I will update this as additional information becomes available.