Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Health Care 'Fix' Has N.J. Stuck

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Health Care 'Fix' Has N.J. Stuck

Article excerpt

New Jersey residents who have received insurance cancellation notices still don't know if they can renew their old policies, despite the president's recent call for a "fix" to make good on his promise that "if you like your plan, you can keep it."

The Department of Banking and Insurance commissioner hasn't decided yet whether to allow insurers to renew the old coverage. Without his go-ahead, the state's insurance companies can't say whether they will do so or not. With a Dec. 15 deadline looming to enroll in coverage that begins on Jan. 1, Commissioner Kenneth E. Kobylowski's decision has become more urgent.

The insurance department "is still awaiting advisement" from the federal government about the changes outlined by President Obama on Nov. 14, said Marshall McKnight, a department spokesman. Obama said he would delay enforcement of the requirement that all plans comply with the Affordable Care Act's new standards, including comprehensive benefits.

Before Obama's fix, an estimated 800,000 New Jersey residents were not going to be able to continue their previous coverage next year through private plans or small employers, insurers had estimated.

It's not clear what further information New Jersey officials need. On Thursday, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a bulletin with sample letters that insurers can use to tell customers whether their old plans will be continued or canceled. The letters explain how the old plans are substandard and that applicants won't be eligible for federal subsidies if they choose to renew old policies.

Insurance commissioners in several states have announced their decisions. California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, Rhode Island and Washington have said they would not allow insurers to renew pre-reform plans. Texas, Florida, Hawaii and Kentucky have allowed them to do so. …

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