California Will Not Extend Canceled Health Policies

California has rejected President Obama's offer to extend canceled health insurance policies. The board that oversees the state's health insurance marketplace voted unanimously Thursday to let canceled policies expire. The board said it didn't want to confuse consumers and disrupt the state's surge in enrollment.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

When Obamacare took affect, there was an outcry from politicians and consumers. Some people had their insurance cancelled, forcing them to more expensive plans. Trying to make good on his original promise that people who like their plans can stick with them, President Obama encouraged states to extend insurance plans that had been cancelled under the new law. But California marketplace officials rejected the president's offer, arguing that their exchange offers plans with better services, and some consumers are willing to pay more for them. The decision came in a unanimous vote last night from a state oversight board that essentially argued the roll out in California has been a success, so why mess with a good thing.

Sarah Varney reports.

SARAH VARNEY, BYLINE: The board's decision had been widely anticipated, but there was an audible sigh of relief by consumer advocates and insurance company representatives when the vote became clear.

Anthony Wright is executive director of the consumer advocacy group Health Access.

ANTHONY WRIGHT: The people who are affected by these rate increases are less than one percent of California. In California, that's still a big number - a couple hundred thousand people - but you don't want to lose the momentum for the millions and millions of people who could get benefits.

VARNEY: The board voted to give consumers an additional 10 days, until December 23rd, to sign up for new coverage. And starting Monday, consumers with cancelled policies will have a special hot line staffed by experts to try to ease the transition.

Not everyone applauded the vote. California's Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who has no authority over the exchange, said he was disappointed in the board's decision.

For NPR News, I'm Sarah Varney in Sacramento.

GREENE: Sarah Varney is with Kaiser Health News, a non profit news service.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: