If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.
That’s the common refrain parroted during the run-up to the passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
Yet, as the law rolls out, many Americans, including thousands in the Gem State, are quickly finding out that the bold statement is more political fiction than fact.
Officially, Obamacare enrollment through the exchanges began Oct. 1, though massive technological failures have resulted in horrendous glitches and embarrassing outages. As a consequence, more people have been told that they are losing their current health care plans than have been able to sign up for new, often pricier insurance through the exchange.
According to estimates, at least 67,000 Idahoans will lose their insurance and be forced to switch to now coverage.
Karen Early, communications director for Blue Cross of Idaho, told IdahoReporter.com that 40,000 of her organization’s clients will have to find new policies in the coming weeks and months. Approximately 15,000, she said, will keep their plans since are “grandfathered in” under the reform law.
Regenda Frieden with Cambia Health Solutions, which operates Regence Blue Shield of Idaho, said that carrier will cancel at least 20,000 plans.
Pacific Source, the third-largest individual insurer in the state, will cancel at least 7,000 plans.
Each carrier has a detailed plan for migrating customers to new policies.
“PacificSource individual policyholders are able to keep their current plans until their renewal date,” Kathy Jost wrote in an email. “About 90 days prior to their renewal, we’re sending them a renewal kit to help them transition to a new ACA-compliant plan from us or through YourHealthIdaho.org.”
The renewal kits, Jost said, explain why Idahoans are losing their current plans and try to match policyholders with newer, Obamacare-approved packages.
If the customers ignore the kit, Jost said the company will migrate them anyway. “To be sure our customers don’t lose coverage, we’ll automatically move them to their best match plan on their renewal date unless they tell us otherwise,” she wrote.
Regence and Blue Cross have similar procedures in place.
Put Idaho’s numbers in full context for a moment: Since the exchange opened, about 100 Idahoans have successfully enrolled in new plans through the exchange due to the tech glitches, while 67,000 need new coverage.
In other words, Idahoans can’t keep their current plans and they can’t yet buy new ones, either.
White House spokesman Jay Carney admitted last week to reporters in a White House briefing that some Americans will lose their plans if they don’t meet Obamacare guidelines.
“It’s correct that substandard plans that don’t provide minimum services … those are no longer allowed because the Affordable Care Act is built on the premise that health care is not a privilege, it’s a right,” Carney told reporters.
Some plans will stick around, at least for a little while. Coverage held by consumers up until March 23, 2010, when Obama signed the law, will be grandfathered in. Any plans purchased or radically altered by customers after that date will have to meet the new requirements.
Early told IdahoReporter.com the law and its meaty requirements are causing many misunderstandings around the state.
“People are confused by statements made by President Barack Obama,” she said.