New Jerseyans Upset By Canceled Health Plan Policies

By Desirée Taylor
Senior Correspondent

“I am totally upset,” said Dr. George Papasikos.

The dentist George Papasikos is upset because of a notice he got from his health insurance company.

“In September I received a notice from my small business health care plan, it would be terminated as of Feb. 1, and I would be offered a substitute plan at a much higher premium,” Papasikos said.

How much higher? Forty-three percent. He’s not alone. Blogger Nicole Sanders had a similar reaction when she found her insurance coverage would cease.

“I was very upset about it because I have issues. I have bad asthma. I felt like they were leaving me out, and I’m still lost to be honest with you. I’m not sure what I am going to be doing because I’ve tried to look and different plans and I was told that I should try to go though I’ve been tryign to do that for a while and it’s just not successful so far,” she said.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey announced it will not renew any small group or individual plans in 2014 — impacting potentially 500,000 people — despite the president’s call urging insurers to reinstate canceled policies. The company issued the following statement: “Horizon BCBSNJ has been working to implement the Affordable Care Act for the past three and a half years, and undoing our work and essentially creating new plans in three weeks has proven to be impossible.”

But United Healthcare, parent company for Oxford health plans, said the company is “working with our brokers to assist our small group customers in New Jersey who wish to renew their 2013 health care coverage.” But even if plans are reinstated, other problems could crop up, say experts.

“Continuation of plans does create attractive options for some consumers. I does have have impact on pricing in the back end of price for some consumers,” said President of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans Ward Sanders.

If your plan is canceled, Sanders says there are options.

“The individual and small-group markets are guaranteed so no one can be turned down regardless of their health status. People are not necessarily losing coverage on Jan. 1. If your plan renewal is on Jan. 1 then you need to look for alternative coverage,” Sanders said.

And the health exchanges website is working better. But with such a disastrous rollout, it’s unclear if consumers will go there to shop for coverage.