When it became clear that President Barack Obama’s often-repeated promise “if you like your current health insurance plan you can keep it” could not be kept, the outrage from individuals whose policies were cancelled by their insurers and the protest from lawmakers in Congress — who saw this development as the latest piece of evidence that the the implementation of the administration’s health care reform law was flawed — forced the administration to make a change. However, that change is not going over well with state insurance commissioners.
As originally written, the health care reform law stated that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 — the day the Affordable Care Act was signed into law — would be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers would be allowed to keep those policies even if they do not provide the ten mandatory benefits that all health insurance plans are required by the Affordable Care Act to provide. However, regulations later written by the Department of Health and Human Services narrowed that provision; if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — including the deductible, co-pay, or benefits — the policy would not be grandfathered.
The reasoning being that the Affordable Care Act was designed to eliminate “substandard policies that don’t provide minimum services,” as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained after the policy cancellations began to make news. But in an announcement made last Thursday, the president said that both policyholders whose plans had been purchased before the law was signed into law and those whose plans have changed could renew their insurance for another year even if they did not comply with the new consumer protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act.