Consumers should consider options after President’s announcement


Dedicated to affordable, quality healthcare and coverage for all Americans.

By Consumers Union on Thursday, November 14th, 2013


Earlier today, President Obama announced that Americans will be able to keep insurance plans­­—that do not comply with the minimum coverage required by the Affordable Care Act—for another year. This means that consumers who have received cancellation notices from Insurers may be able to keep their insurance plans. In addition, insurers will have to tell these policyholders two things:

  1. The protections that are not covered under those insurance plans
  2. The new insurance marketplaces may offer better coverage and tax credits that may help bring the cost down

This is meant to be a transitional policy to ease the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. After that year, the administration will consider the impact of the policy and whether or not to extend it beyond the time frame.

DeAnn Friedholm, Director of Health Reform for Consumers Union, issued this statement in response:

“Today’s announcement gives some consumers peace of mind and more time to evaluate their insurance options without the fear of being uninsured. However, Consumers Union believes that consumers need and deserve comprehensive, quality insurance. A large number of people will find better, affordable options by shopping through the marketplaces where millions will qualify for tax credits. We continue to advise consumers to take the time to really understand what is covered by their plan and utilize the tools available to compare plans, rather than just settling for the first option offered by their insurer.”

“The insurance industry has shown that, when left to its own devices, it would rather not give consumers all the information they need to make informed decisions. That’s why it is imperative that consumer-friendly guidelines are put in place so that this new round of insurance company letters presents in a clear, standardized way what is not included in their plan and where consumers can go look for insurance options. Consumers should take advantage of the Summary of Benefits and Coverage form required for all insurers that allows consumers to compare all their options on an apples-to-apples basis.”

Who does this announcement affect?

It applies to individuals that have coverage which they purchased on their own or as a small business that was in effect on October 1, 2013. It does not apply to individuals that obtained new coverage after October 1, 2013. Those currently without insurance will not be able to buy these old plans.

What happens next?

The new policy announcement leaves it up to state insurance commissioners and insurance companies to decide whether or not to adopt the transitional policy.

What should consumers do?

While state insurance commissioners and insurance companies decide what to do, check out your options. Many people will be able to purchase more comprehensive coverage and receive tax credits through state-based Marketplaces. Find out exactly how the law affects you by visiting our Consumer Reports Health Law Helper.


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