27 November 2013


This story first appeared in The Detroit News

All of Priority Health’s insurance plans will continue in 2014, whether or not they comply with the federal Affordable Care Act, the company announced Monday.

New customers have until Dec. 31 to sign up for a non-compliant plan, one that doesn’t include all of the 10 “essential benefits” policies required under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Existing customers will be able to decide after Jan. 1 whether they want to sign up for a non-compliant plan or a policy that includes all the services required under Obamacare, such as preventive care, hospitalization, mental health and maternity care.

Grand Rapids-based Priority Health had 22,000 individual plan subscribers in 2013.

The Michigan Department of Financial and Insurance Services announced Friday it would allow insurance companies to reinstate policies that would otherwise be canceled on Jan. 1 for not meeting standards under the Affordable Care Act. President Barack Obama proposed reinstating the policies to satisfy consumers who are upset that their policies are to be canceled on Jan. 1 despite the president’s pledge that Americans could keep health plans that they like.

The state's largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, said Friday it would not revive any of the 26 individual plans shelved for not complying with the health care law, saying they’d have to raise rates on the reinstated policies. About 140,000 Blues customers originally had plans canceled. Detroit-based Health Alliance Plan also also said they won’t bring back policies for about 1,000 customers who received cancellation notices. Both companies said members can get better plans — and federal subsidies — by purchasing policies that conform with the health care law.

Priority Health didn’t have to cancel any policies. Earlier this year, Priority sought and received approval from the Department of Financial and Insurance Services to make all of their plans renewable in 2013. Plans that are renewed on Dec. 31, 2013 remain in effect through Dec. 31, 2014, meaning even Priority’s non-ACA compliant plans could remain in effect through 2014.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has just one non-ACA compliant plan that renews in 2013, the “Keep Fit” plan. The Blues Friday said they will move any of 140,000 members who received cancellation notices into the Keep Fit plan if they want to stay in a policy that doesn’t meet the requirement of the Affordable Care Act.

“We anticipated there would be a lot of confusion,” said Amy Miller, manager of public relations for Priority Health. “We wanted to give people more time to consider their options, so we’re giving them almost one more year to consider what will best meet their needs.”

Ann Flood, director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, said Michigan has about 800,000 residents with health insurance policies that have been canceled or will be soon.

Michigan is among 11 states where the insurance commissioner has agreed to allow companies to reinstate policies, while 11 other state have declined to implement Obama’s fix, according to the industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

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