July 10th, 2013 – A loophole in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) enables health insurers to extend existing policies for nearly all of 2014.
This is a radical change for the previous understanding that all health insurance plans must comply with new federal rules starting Jan. 1, 2014 when most provisions of the ACA go into effect.
Some insurance carriers are still requiring all new policy holders to get new ACA compliant policies on January 1st, 2014. Other insurance carriers are allowing new policies purchased before the end of 2013 to be kept through 2014.
This loophole won’t likely help lower-income people who qualify for federal premium subsidies, available only through Colorado’s insurance exchanges. Individuals earning less than $46,000 or families below $94,000 annually would be eligible for subsidies.
However, people who earn too much to qualify for federal subsidies could face significantly higher premiums in 2014, when the new ACA plans require insurers to accept all applicants regardless of pre-existing medical conditions and to offer more comprehensive benefits. These people could potentially save a lot of money by getting a new lower cost health insurance plan before the end of 2013.
Companies like Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and UnitedHealthOne/Golden Rule are already allowing people who purchase new policies in 2013 the option of keeping those plans in 2014, potentially saving those new customers from higher premiums for the new ACA compliant plans.
Kaiser Permanente, doesn’t plan to renew policies beyond Jan. 1 in Colorado and most of the other states where it sells coverage.