Some Alaskans' health care plans canceled, then reinstated -- here's what to expect next

Laurel Andrews
Health insurance plans canceled under the Affordable Care Act will be extended for another year without any increase in premiums, Premera Blue Cross has announced. What can Alaskans expect in the weeks ahead? 401(K)2013 / cc via flickr

Health care insurance plans canceled under the Affordable Care Act are back for another year, Premera Blue Cross announced this week, and rates for those plans will not be changing. If you're one of the Alaskans who previously received a cancellation letter from Premera, here’s what to expect in the weeks ahead.

Premera, Alaska’s largest health insurance provider, announced Monday that health care plans for roughly 5,400 Alaskans previously set for cancellation at the end of the year will now be extended through 2014. On Tuesday, Premera announced that those plans would not see any rate increases over the next year.

“With all the confusion,” regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the company “took a pass” on altering rates, spokeswoman Melanie Coon said.

The plans will have the exact same benefits, coverage and costs as in 2013. Premera will automatically re-enroll members in these plans, unless members contact the company to cancel them.

If folks still want to sign up for new plans under the ACA, instead of keeping their current plan, they need to get in touch with Premera before the end of the year.

Small businesses will also have the option of extending the plans into 2014. Premera will know whether rates for small businesses are changing on Monday, pending negotiations with the Alaska Division of Insurance, Coon said.

Folks who received a cancellation letter will get another notification by the second week of December explaining the ins and outs of the change.

Moda Health, another insurance company operating in Alaska, did not return calls for comment on Wednesday. However, the company has announced that canceled plans would be extended in Oregon -- but only for the first three months of 2014.

The extension on previously-canceled health care plans was announced Nov. 14, after criticism was levied at President Obama regarding a statement he made while promoting the ACA in 2009: “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

In October, insurance companies across the country sent out notices that certain plans would be cancelled and policy holders would be signed up under new plans that meet ACA coverage requirements. Only a portion of plans, those grandfathered into the system for already meeting ACA requirements, would remain in place.

A notice sent to state insurance divisions from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated that some people were finding the new plans “more expensive than their current coverage, and some of thus they may be dissuaded from immediately transitioning to (the Federal Marketplace).”

The state Division of Insurance reviewed the changes, later announcing that insurance companies would make the call on whether to extend plans.

Contact Laurel Andrews at laurel(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter @Laurel_Andrews

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