On November 14, 2013, President Obama announced a plan that would enable certain Americans with health coverage to keep their existing coverage for an additional year even if their existing coverage fails to meet the minimum standards established under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The measure was taken in an effort to keep the President’s original promise that Americans would be able to keep their health plan if they liked it following the rollout of the ACA.
Under the new measure, insurers would have the option of continuing to sell current plans that do not meet the basic plan requirements under the ACA to existing customers whose policies are set to expire in 2014. The insurers in turn would be required to: (i) notify these customers of the specific ACA protections their current plan lacks, and (ii) advise them that the exchange offers other options with “better coverage and tax credits that might help you bring down cost.” This measure would remain in place for one year. At this point it is not clear how many consumers who face cancellation of their existing health coverage will be helped by this measure. For such coverage to be available the insurer must be willing to continue carrying the plan and the sale of any such plan must be approved by the applicable state insurance department.
To address similar concerns, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to approve H.R. 3350, know as the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013, which was originally introduced by Rep. Fred Upton in late October. H.R.3350 provides that any insurer that had an individual health insurance product on the market as of January 1, 2013, may continue to offer such coverage in 2014. However, unlike the President’s new measure, H.R. 3350 does not limit sales of such health insurance to an insurer’s existing customers. H.R. 3350 is not expected to pass the Senate, and the White House has already signaled that the President would veto H.R. 3350, noting that “policies that reverse the progress made to extend quality, affordable coverage to millions of uninsured, hardworking, middle class families are not the solution.”