Obama Announces Plan to Allow Insurance Companies to Extend Plans

11:01 PM, Nov 14, 2013   |    comments
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GREENSORO, N.C. --  Nearly 500,000 North Carolinians received cancellations from their insurance provider - blaming the Affordable Care Act.

President Barack Obama apologized and said Thursday people who lost their plans can keep them for one year -- but it's up to the insurance providers to act.

READ: President Obama Takes Blame For Healthcare Rollout

Experts say that's a lot easier said than done. 

"It's going to take us some time to figure out exactly what is going to happen because of his statement," explained Joan Marion, Godwin Insurance Agency.

Marion has been in the health insurance business for more than a decade. She says carriers had to put in a lot of man power and money to determine to make their plans compliant with the new law. 

It's work she does not believe can be undone in less than two months.

"The problem is now the carrier has to file rates with each states department of insurance, and we are looking at mid-November for a January 1 date. I.. I don't know that that's possible," said Marion.

Wayne Goodwin, Commissioner of  the North Carolina Department of Insurance issued a statement about the president's plan that reads, "I have been, and remain, deeply concerned about North Carolinians who may lose or cannot access health insurance, and I appreciate any effort by the federal government to help us address cancellations of coverage. Given the President's announcement, my staff and I are gathering information and analyzing the options available to us at the state level to best protect North Carolina consumers."  

Insurance providers are being just as vague.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina said, "We had already been actively exploring options to provide some relief to customers who were faced with losing a plan they liked.  This additional flexibility could help insurers take steps to protect their customers for another year."

Neither of these statements gives a clear answer on what happens next. Political Science expert Jason Husser says at this point - that's to be expected.

"This is very confusing, even to people who are on the ground dealing with it every single day that's a problem," said Husser.

"If its confusing to experts, it's also confusing to everyday citizens who need to know very clearly what they should do."

Husser says Obama's statement is politically motivated - ACA is his law and he needs to save face.

It does not mean people who lost insurance will get it back. Again, that is up to their insurance companies.

President Obama's plan says insurance providers who chose to renew the canceled plans will have to make clear what those plans do not include. 

They will also have to let people know about options available in the marketplace.

READ: Four Questions on Canceled Insurance Policy Fix

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