Indeed, Harris’ $98 premium is the result of the very kind of medical underwriting that allowed insurers to charge relatively healthy people a lot less for insurance and exclude sicker people altogether. Those practices are outlawed by reform. Insurers will no longer keep sicker people form signing up for insurance or charge older people more than three times the rates of younger and healthier applicants and offer benefits in 10 broad categories of coverage. Since many insurers are anticipating more sicker people to sign up for care and are now offering more benefits, premiums are comparatively higher, though competition among plans has shown to lower rates.
But ultimately, the decision over whether to cancel coverage is that of insurers. They have the option of incorporating the new minimum standards into their plans (to ensure compliance), though some may still cancel policies in an effort to shed some of the sickest and costliest beneficiaries or push people into different plans.
During an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday, Pat Geraghty, CEO of Florida Blue, put it this way, “[W]e’re not cutting people, we’re actually transitioning people. What we’ve been doing is informing folks that their plan doesn’t meet the test of the essential health benefits, therefore they have a choice of many options that we make available through the exchange.
“And, in fact, with subsidy, many people will be getting better plans at a lesser cost. So this really is a transition. And in fact, the 300,000 figure is the entire year. So it’s really 40,000 people for January 1, and we’re walking them through that transition,” he added.
Call it “transition” or “cancellation,” most individuals will qualify for subsidies and will likely see savings in their new plans. Harris, however, who for years has benefited from a system that kept sicker people out, could now pay more for a structure in which everyone — including her — can always buy comprehensive coverage.
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