Is it too late for “Keep Your Plan?”
posted at 9:41 pm on November 12, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham
Either version of the law (Upton’s or Landrieu’s) likely creates an adverse selection problem that will further hurt the insurance industry, which let’s recall, was in bed with the administration on Obamacare because of all the new customers that would be required to buy its product. Obamacare has, with an impressive combination of incompetence and irony, seemingly been optimized to create a death spiral.
But is it logistically possible for people to keep their plans? For insurance companies to reinstate them? John McCormack at the Weekly Standard:
With millions of Americans losing their health insurance because of Obamacare, bills have been introduced in Congress to let people keep their plans.
But health industry consultant Bob Laszewski says it’s too late for these measures to help Americans losing their policies on January 1. If Congress and the president agreed to a new law, insurance companies would still need time to re-open canceled plans, state insurance commissioners would have to expedite the approval of those plans (a process that usually takes months), and Americans would need time to choose to sign up for their old plan or hold out for a subsidized Obamacare plan. “You’ve got to have a process where [insurers] send them a letter, and you have to work with their questions, and they have to affirmatively sign up for left or right,” Laszewski tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “You’re not going to do that in six weeks.”
Health policy expert Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center disagrees with that assessment. “I think this notion that ‘Oh, you know, it’ll take too long’ is just an excuse,” says Capretta, a former Associate Director at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Capretta points to California, where the insurance commissioner forced Blue Shield to delay cancellations for over 100,000 people because of a technicality (the insurer sent its cancellation letters out later than required by law).
There is a chance that, even if already canceled policies can’t be replaced, maybe those currently scheduled for cancellation in 2014 could be saved:
Although Laszewski thinks it’s too late to help people losing their plans on January 1, he says there is enough time to save the plans of millions of Americans who haven’t lost their plans yet but will at some point in 2014. “There’s enough time not to send the cancellation letters out for April, May, June,” he says.
Cancellation letters will continue to go out in 2014 as plans expire each month, and some people were able to renew their current plans through December of 2014. “People who haven’t gotten the cancellation letter yet, or people like me who took the early renewal and my renewal date is now December of 2014, hopefully you can conceivably get something done by then,” says Laszewski.
There’s political pressure for Congress to make sure people can keep their plans, but there’s existential pressure on insurance companies to prevent them from keeping them. What do the poll numbers look like, pray tell, on a bailout for insurance companies?