Wednesday, March 5, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will allow a two-year extension for people whose individual health insurance policies don't comply with requirements of the new health care law, helping to defuse a politically difficult election-year issue for Democrats.
A government official familiar with the policy said today that the administration has decided to extend for another two years a transition plan the White House announced last fall. The extension would be valid for policies issued up to Oct. 1, 2016. The official was not authorized to discuss the change on the record and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
The cancellation of at least 4.7 million individual policies was one of the most politically damaging issues in the transition to a new insurance system under President Barack Obama's health care law. A wave of cancellations hit last fall, around the time the new HealthCare.gov website was overwhelmed with technical problems that kept many consumers for signing up for coverage.
It's not clear how many people would actually be affected by the latest change. About half the states have allowed insurance companies to extend canceled policies for a year under the original White House transition plan. The policies usually provided less financial protection and narrower benefits than the coverage required under the law. Nonetheless, the skimpier insurance was acceptable to many consumers because it generally cost less.