Covered California Sticks to Plan Cancellations

CancelledThe Covered California board ruled that insurers will not be allowed to continue selling policies in 2014 that don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage requirements. Insurance Commissioner Jones called Covered California’s decision a disservice to policyholders. Jones made the following comments:

Over a million Californians have received cancellation notices from their health insurer. On behalf of these policyholders, I am disappointed in Covered California’s action, which denies people and families the opportunity to keep their existing health insurance as President Obama promised.

Covered California rejected what President Obama and I asked for-that individual policyholders be allowed to keep their existing health insurance through all of 2014. Covered California’s decision denies Californians the same opportunity health insurers are giving to its small business customers who are being allowed to renew current policies throughout 2014. Covered California could have honored President Obama’s request, without causing damage to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act or the Exchange.

The preferred and more equitable course of action for California consumers is for Covered California’s unnecessary cancellation to be rescinded. Allowing existing policyholders to keep their health insurance for the duration of 2014 will not undermine the implementation of the ACA, but rather will give consumers more time to figure out what makes sense for their families.

Jones also stressed that allowing existing policyholders to renew for a full year will not undermine the risk pool since the ACA has robust features which mitigate the risk of health insurers having a disproportionate share of sick people in their risk pool in 2014. Additionally, it is estimated that 400,000 existing policyholders are eligible for subsidies.

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog said, “It’s outrageous that this board would acknowledge that half the Californians facing cancellations will pay more money for the same or worse health coverage, then block them from continuing their existing policies for another year. Shame on Covered California for representing the insurance companies, not the policyholders, and standing in the way of President Obama’s call for relief. Covered California showed why we need elected officials, accountable directly to the public, to oversee how much health insurance companies charge.”

In a prepared statement, the Covered California board said that extending the deadline does not benefit consumers and may create confusion about accessing affordable health care coverage through Covered California. The board said that maintaining the original deadline confirms Covered California’s commitment to transitioning Californians into plans that are compliant with the reforms of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, protecting consumers from double deductibles, and stabilizing the risk pool to control costs for consumers beginning in 2014.

Additionally, Covered California is implementing these strategies to boost enrollment:
• Extending the deadline for enrollment for coverage taking effect on Jan. 1, 2014, from Dec. 15, 2013, to Dec. 23, 2013, and extending the deadline for payments due from Dec. 26, 2013, to Jan. 5, 2014.
• Establishing a telephone hotline for consumers to resolve enrollment questions at 855-857-0445.
• Sending information directly to nearly 1.13 million affected people, which provides clear options for coverage. The information will be sent from Covered California and the individual’s current insurance provider.
• Regularly collecting and reporting data showing the affects of conversion for people.
• Engaging consumers in their communities through the thousands of Certified insurance agents, certified enrollment counselors and certified educators now deployed statewide.

Last Updated 01/19/2022

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