Thousands of consumers in Washington are getting a letter telling them their health insurance policy has been canceled and they need to sign up for a new plan. Many are complaining to the state insurance commissioner.
The individual health care policies are being canceled because the plans don't meet the minimum coverage standards mandated by the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. In some cases, the comparable replacement plans offered by the insurance companies are more expensive.
"And we are receiving a lot of calls from these people who have had a rate increase and they're seeing significant benefit changes and many of them are upset," said Stephanie Marquis, with the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner.
On the plus side, she pointed out, the new plans cap out-of-pocket costs, setting limits on deductibles and co-pays. "And so now, those costs are combined and they can't be more than $6,350 for an individual this first year."
A lot of people favored their now-canceled plans that offered lower premiums and fewer benefits.
"There are people who say, 'I like my plan, I never go to the doctor, it works for me.' And we say, 'That's great for you today but nobody's immune from bad luck,'" said Marquis. She conceded that some consumers will pay more for their new individual health insurance coverage.
In Washington state, the new health insurance marketplace, Washington HealthPlanFinder, is an opportunity to possibly get a better replacement plan than the one offered up by your health insurance provider. The letters being sent to holders of individual policies usually offer a comparable plan, one with similar costs and benefits.
"And in many cases, it's not as attractive as the plan that they have but what we're trying to tell people is that they have a right to shop now," said Marquis. "They should go out and they should look and see what the other companies are selling."
So far, this month, 35,000 people have signed up for health care coverage through the Washington HealthPlanFinder, most of those are new Medicaid enrollees.
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