Health Plan Changes Draw Different Reactions

Nov 15, 2013

President Obama's plan to allow health insurers to continue offering some plans that do not meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act is drawing mixed reaction in Ohio.

Bill Rice of member station WCPN in Cleveland reports.

Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, who serves as the head of the state Department of Insurance, says she supports allowing Ohioans to keep the health care plans they want, as they were promised when Obamacare was being explained to them.  And, she says, her office will work with companies to reissue those plans if they choose.  But Taylor, who has been an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act, says the president should have seen the problem coming.

Taylor: “We very quickly realized that the types of coverage and the consumer choice we had in Ohio would not continue to exist under ObamaCare and so it was not possible for individuals to carry certain types of plans - those plans that better met their needs - under the new ObamaCare mandates and requirements.”

While the complaints about cancelled health plans is getting a great deal of attention, it may not be that big a deal to insurers, according to J.B. Silvers.  He a professor of health care finance at Case Wesrtern Reserve University. 

Silvers:  “When I look at the rates they’ve actually filed, it looks to me that they’ve already built in a fair amount of pessimism about the health status of people that were going to enroll to begin with.  So they might have enough cushion already built into their rates that this probably small number of people we’re talking about here not coming into the exchanges maybe wouldn’t make much difference to them.”

Don Olson is spokesman for Medical Mutual, a statewide insurer.  He said Thursday afternoon his company was still pondering the news.

Olson: “We’re waiting for guidance from our regulator, the Ohio Department of Insurance. In the meantime we are weighing the options and studying the possibilities of the president’s statement. And if the Ohio Department of Insurance permits insurers, we’ll make a decision based on what’s best for our policy holders and the company.”

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress continue to blast the President on cancelled policies, and Ohio Congressman and Speaker of the House John Boehner again called for scrapping the law altogether. 

Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, a firm supporter of the Affordable Care Act, says she thinks the president’s plan to extend cancelled policies is reasonable.  However, she’s leery of some of those cancelled plans that she thinks are substandard.

Kaptur: “What we want to do at the federal level is provide a level of confidence that plans that get on the exchange are actually reputable.  And we don’t want to give anybody a bad deal out there.”

Kaptur accompanied the president Thursday to Northeast Ohio, where he spoke with employees at the Arcelor Mittal Steel plant in Cleveland.  There, he repeated his resolve to see the Affordable Care Act through to full implementation, despite its troubled start.