Saturday, November 18, 2017
Health

Q and A: What does Obama's new proposal mean for my health insurance?

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What will President Barack Obama's new position mean for the 5 percent of Americans who have individual health insurance plans? Here's what we know so far:

I don't have insurance now, but I don't want one of the new plans that covers things I don't need. Could I buy one of the old plans under the president's new proposal?

No. The president's proposal applies only to people who have had their existing policies canceled. Newcomers would not be able to buy the old, "grandfathered'' plans. A pending House proposal would permit this, but it would have to be approved by Congress as well as the president.

My plan is being canceled, but my income qualifies me for an Obamacare subsidy. Can I use the subsidy to pay for my old plan if it's still available?

Sorry, but no. You need to buy your insurance through the Marketplace in order to get a subsidy — and all Marketplace policies are new ones that meet the coverage standards of the Affordable Care Act.

So, all I have to do is call my insurer and say I want to keep my policy and things will just continue as they are?

It depends on your insurer, though Floridians have an advantage here because it's one of the states that a while ago permitted insurers to renew existing plans. Humana and Cigna, for instance, had already told their customers that if they renew their current plans now, they can keep them through 2014.

But the president's statement Thursday doesn't require companies to keep selling the old plans. He's only requesting that they do. An industry trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, quickly released a statement Thursday suggesting the move would harm insurers. "Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,'' said AHIP president and CEO Karen Ignagni.

How are we supposed to buy Marketplace insurance if the website isn't working?

It's far from ideal, but the site has improved. If you are patient and persistent, keep trying and you may join the nearly 4,000 Floridians who have succeeded in buying Marketplace plans, either through healthcare.gov or other routes. You also can work through a navigator (find a link on healthcare.gov's home page, which is easy to access); you can call the toll-free number: 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325); or contact an independent insurance agent.

Sources: Health and Human Services, America's Health Insurance Plans, Associated Press

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