While the Obama Administration toils away at fixing Healthcare.gov, the vital online exchange at the heart of Obamacare, existing health plans are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellations letters to those who buy their own coverage.
The reason: existing policies do not offer what is required under the Affordable Care Act, which takes effect Jan. 1. Most of the cancelled policies were sold after the law passed in March 2010. Some are reportedly cancelling plans sold to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
An estimated 14 million people pay more for their own coverage because they can’t get medical insurance through their employers. Many are self-employed or part-time workers.
Here are some examples, cited by Kaiser Health News:
- Florida Blue is ending about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in Florida.
- Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state.
- Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is cancelling about 20 percent of its individual policies, while Independence Blue Cross, the big insurer in Philadelphia, is ending about 45 percent of these types of policies.
Meanwhile, President Obama was joined Monday at the White House by Obamacare applicants and beneficiaries.
Obama defended the Affordable Care Act, but said the website’s glitches and functionality issues were unacceptable.
Obama encouraged those who want to apply for the program to do so by phone or mail as work on Healthcare.gov continues. Administration officials Monday said about 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed on the website so far.
The big question is whether enrollment is on pace with early estimates. The Health Department’s goal is 7 million sign-ups by the end of March. The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that 14 million would either get Medicaid or private health insurance on the exchanges in 2014.