NJAHP President Says Carriers Have to Explore New Options

Nationwide, people have complained that under the Affordable Care Act, many are not be able to keep their current health insurance plans. The Obama administration has said that individual states will be able to extend those basic plans for one year. New Jersey officials agreed yesterday to allow the recently canceled health plans to be extended for the year. New Jersey Association of Health Plans President Ward Sanders told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that insurance carries are going to have to look at this option, whether they want to or not.

According to Sanders, the issue is if it makes sense and is possible to continue certain coverage that the state and the president have decided to permit.

It is going to be a challenge to continue plans because usually there are decided rates with premiums that are going to be charged to consumers, which are on file with the state, Sanders said. Currently, insurers do not have the rates for the non-complying plans ready for 2014 and it is a process that typically takes a few months, he said.

As for the limited benefit package that the legislature developed, there would have to be significant changes to the plan design for it to be renewed, Sanders said.

“I think we will probably hear from most carriers next week about whether they are going to proceed and which plans they are going to proceed to try to renew. The basic and essential plan does present some unique challenges because it would have to change so dramatically to be able to continue that plan,” Sanders said.

If a plan renews in September 2014, that is when it would trigger a responsibility to change, Sanders explained.

“Eight hundred thousand people aren’t currently, right now, having to worry about what they are going to do on Jan. 1. It’s only the people or businesses that were renewing on Jan. 1 that are under this time crutch. They might have new options available to them if carriers are able to and it makes sense for these renewals,” Sanders said.

Sanders is unsure whether the insurance carriers wanted this new option or not, but he said that it is something that they are going to have to take a look at. There are ground rules for reissuing certain plans and the commissioner made it clear what would need to be changed, Sanders said.