Cancellations, modifications coming for many Americans in individual health consumer market
October 29th, 2013
08:42 AM ET
1 year ago

Cancellations, modifications coming for many Americans in individual health consumer market

Updated 10/29/2013 at 10:12am

Washington (CNN) - The vast majority of Americans on the individual insurance market will see modifications to their existing plans, or even cancellations, according to an insurance industry source.

That raises questions about repeated claims made by President Barack Obama reassuring consumers that if they like their current plan, they can keep it.

"If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan," the president said in August, 2009 at a town hall meeting as the debate over Obamacare was heating up.

But the reality, according to an insurance industry source with knowledge of the implementation of Obamacare, is that many Americans, especially those with high deductible, catastrophic care policies will see drastic changes.

As new minimum requirements for their plans take effect next year, modifications and even cancellations may become necessary for those and other consumers, the industry source said. Some plans are going to be so different, the source added it may be easier to cancel those policies and then offer new coverage under Obamacare, which is formally known as the Affordable Care Act.

In many cases those policies will offer greater coverage, but at a higher price.

"Starting next year, all policies are required to cover a broad range of benefits, some of which are not in plans consumers choose to purchase today," said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans. "There's going to be a wide variation of impacts."

"For some people, the coverage they have today is going to be changed to cover the new requirements," Zirkelbach said.

But unlike the pre-Obamacare era, consumers who receive cancellations now have options. They will, in theory, be able to buy coverage under Obamacare and in some cases receive subsidies, Zirkelbach said.

White House officials maintain they have always said some health care plans would not meet new Obamacare requirements.

"There are existing health care plans on the individual market that don't meet those minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday. "There are some that can be grandfathered if people want to keep insurance that's substandard."

Carney argued the new coverage offered under the Affordable Care Act will be an improvement for consumers who see changes to their current plans.

"This is qualitatively better insurance coverage than what was available in many cases to Americans around the country," Carney said.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation website, 15.4 million people had individual health care coverage in 2011, representing more than 5% of the population. The vast majority of Americans – at least two-thirds of the population in 2011 – had coverage through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid or other public providers and will not be affected by changes involving individual coverage.

About 50 million Americans lack health insurance and are the main focus of the Obamacare reforms intended to them into the marketplace.


Filed under: Health care • Obamacare • President Obama
soundoff (252 Responses)
  1. Bob

    An UGLY illegal alien is not the best picture for CNN to put online although it probably represents the group that this new system will benefit most.

    October 29, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. christophermcne

    If paying more for better insurance were actually an option for a lot of the people in this situation, wouldn't they already be paying more for better insurance?

    October 29, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. buongiorno

    the great thing to look forward to is PREEXISTING CONDITIONS will not be turned away and what a GREAT DEFEAT that in itself is worth its weight in gold

    October 29, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. christophermcne

    Wait, if these people could afford to pay more for better insurance, wouldn't they already be doing so? This doesn't sound like a solution to anything.

    October 29, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. TMM

    Even the subsidized plans have premiums, deductables and copays. What happens when a large proportion of these folks don't pay their bills? The "take care of me" poeple in our populations don't want health insurance – they want free health care.

    October 29, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. FrankinSD

    It was up to the insurance companies whether or not to grandfather in their non-compliant plans. The President cannot be held responsible for the decisions those companies made – nor their impact on individual customers. If you don't like the way that private insurance companies act, maybe we need a public option.

    October 29, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. Enough

    Obama and his minions what have you to say now. Liars nothing but liars. How do you like the ACA now folks?

    October 29, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Paul

    My current plan is being cancelled because it does not comply with Obamacare's mandates. For new policies, I'm being quoted for maternity care even though we are in our 50's and have no need for this feature. Even in the extremely slim chance that my wife becomes pregnant, I am willing to pay for it out of pocket. But Obamacare says "No!" I must pay for something they know I won't use because the whole point is to get me to pay more money in an effort to get me to subsidize someone else.

    October 29, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  9. Fair is Fair

    Redistribution of wealth through the healthcare system. Good thing they passed the bill so we could see what was in it, eh?

    October 29, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. Crybaby

    Some of the plans people had were useless. It is a shame when people will pay more per month for a cell phone than they will for health insurance. Stop the complaining and get real health insurance because some of us are tired of carrying the load for others.

    October 29, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. Sandra

    I fall into the category of people who CHOOSE to have a catastrophic type of insurance plan. I think that this is actually what insurance should be. You plan for and pay for normal medical expenses and have a plan for something catastrophic. So I will probably be forced to buy a plan, and pay more, for coverage I do not want. Ridiculous as I don't need or want the government to provide this service. Noone, either side of the aisle, is focusing on the real problem – which is why costs are so high for medical care.

    October 29, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. Ab00

    This is not just happening to individual policy holders. It is open enrollment time at my husbands work. He works for a major company. Our insurance policy will not be offered anymore despite us having it for many years. Our new options include 2 very undesirable HSA accounts with minimal company contribution, a high deductible (4k or 6k depending on our choice)and high percentage "co-pay". The only other option is not even comparable POS plan with a deductible, higher copays, higher percentage responsibilities and so on. My doctor is unsure if he will accept the new plan options. So much for keeping your policy and your doctor.

    October 29, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. BADGUY

    Having insurance that covers "Hang Nails.. on days that occur during the full moon" is NOT insurance....It's a SCAM...at ANY price. The insurance industry is now required to provide REAL insurance policies...and Americans can no longer be SCAMMED with "make believe" insurance policies. We PUT minimum insurance standards on our home and vehicle insurance. Putting the SAME minimum standards on Health Insurance is both fair and NECESSARY!

    October 29, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Joe Mama

    Every so slowly... everyday Democrats start to see what everyday Republicans have started coming to terms with... We've been played by our respective "leaders." There is only one party in Washington and that party works only for massive corporations.

    October 29, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Shutupalready

    Anyone know info on those that will be exempt....I'd like to know who can thank those of us that paying for their free healthcare.

    October 29, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. donna

    Actually, after 30 years of basically just handing over money to insurance companies as a self-employed individual (I've rarely gotten sick) – I'm actually going to get something for my money under Obamacare. My coverage is going to double and my costs are cut in half. I suggest all you folks complaining take a closer look. You might be pleasantly surprised! I think a lot of the negative coverage is actually politically motivated. For those of us who are self-employed, Obamacare is a God-send.

    October 29, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. Have We Gone Crazy

    Some of these posts seem unreal. Concerned said a 93 year old grandmother is losing health coverage. The 93 year old grandmother has Medicare for life. Some of these responses are just plain lies. Geez people give it up, suck it up, shake it off and move on.

    October 29, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. A1

    When the hipsters find out their hero is going to make THEM pay for this mess and the IRS (or whatever G men come after them) begin charging them penalties, I bet they reconsider their ideology.

    October 29, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. jcp

    I imagine there are many who will benefit from Obamacare but it seems to adversely affect those that earn a decent living and already pay for private insurance. For example, I have the best insurance plan from Providence I could get for my wife and daughters on the open market (Optimum 1000) and pay $413/month. Because of the healthcare law changes, Providence will no longer be offering this plan in 2014. What they have recommended to me instead, that they claim is the closest to the Optimum 1000 plan, is the "Balance 2000" plan. It has a higher deductible, higher copay, higher individual out of pocket max (family is the same) and less overall coverage. To top it off, this plan will end up costing *more* every month than I'm currently paying. The Affordable Care Act has made healthcare a bit *less* affordable for me...

    October 29, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. Jerry Okamura

    The President said if you have a plan you can keep your plan, and someone in his administration said we always said that some plans would not meet the new requirements. So, the relevant question is whey didn't the President know the truth about his own healthcare plan?

    October 29, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. reasonablebe

    ok, so that is the equivalent to complaining that you can no longer order a car without shoulder straps or airbags, because the minimum safety standards have changed.

    duh. if you had a policy that didn't provide you with the absolute minimum coverage that the now more regulated policies must cover, they will have to change....

    whereas before you could be sold something you were either led to believe covered things that were critical, but the fine print excluded (not covered), now there are certain things that MUST be covered by every policy... no more misled insureds.

    October 29, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. Tam61

    This is no surprise to me. Being as how Nancy and Harry have NO idea what is in this 2000+ page bill, I'm positive Obama has no idea what's really in it as well – except for the parts he kept preaching about while campaigning which was "You can keep your children on your healthcare plan until they are 26" and "You cannot be turned down or lose your insurance due to a pre-existing condition" and "Preventive Care" and last but not least "You can keep your current insurance". What he DID NOT tell the American people, which by the way he DID know about was that you most likely CANNOT keep your current insurance and your premiums and deductibles will be so high that you can't afford the insurance; that if you do not have a job and therefore NO income you do NOT qualify for the ACA and you are urged to go on Medicaid (this is what they told me about my 29 year old son who is unemployed and attending college); that everyone that is considered "Middle Class" who basically live pay check to pay check will also see their taxes go up about $6000 a year – and that's just the tip of this horrendous bill. Affordable healthcare????? That statement would be laughable except for the fact that you really want to cry.

    October 29, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. Ryan

    "The vast majority of Americans – at least two-thirds of the population in 2011 – had coverage through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid or other public providers and will not be affected by changes involving individual coverage."

    Well, that stinks for those who have individual health care coverage, but fortunately for me, I have health insurance through my employer so...oh wait – I got my cancellation notice yesterday.

    Just keep putting lipstick on this particular pig folks. This supposedly qualitatively superior insurance is a sham since the deductibles are outrageous and for many the premiums are also a joke. So, yay, I guess? I will have insurance that is insurance in name only and that I cannot afford. Fun. Honestly glad for those of you who are better off under the plan, but I can't help but be upset that I am now "uninsured."

    October 29, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. B

    "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it."

    Adolf Hitler

    October 29, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. Oh

    "But unlike the pre-Obamacare era, consumers who receive cancellations now have options."

    Bald-faced lie. For many years now there have been WORKING websites that offered health insurance options from which I have purchased policies.

    October 29, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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