OR: Insurance Commissioner won’t Delay 2013 Health Coverage Cancellations

Oregon state regulators have rejected an idea to push back the cancellation dates of more than 140,000 residents’ health insurance policies, despite confusion and momentum among national political leaders to do so.

Despite confidential discussions of potential changes (including a three-month delay of cancellations) over the past week between state officials and insurance executives, Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali has decided against the idea for now because of logistical difficulties.

In an already stressful time, “we think that adding more communication, different options, changing dates could possibly be confusing and actually I think make this more difficult,” Cali said.

Insurers have always had the option to leave existing health policies in place through March 31, but most chose Dec 31 instead, state officials say.

In a meeting last week, some issuers expressed interest in giving more time to consumers across the market – not just those interested in Cover Oregon. As of now, most policies will be canceled on Dec 31 because they do not meet the new federal standards. Some insurers were hoping to push the date back to March 31, and the group discussed whether the state should make it mandatory.

Other insurers pushed back on the idea, driving the decision to stay with the Dec 31 date. “I really got a range of feedback from a number of carriers about this,” Cali said.

Oregon State Representative Jason Conger released a statement today questioning the Cali’s decision made earlier this week.

“We were promised that ‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep it.’ ” Conger said. “Millions of Americans, and over 140,000 Oregonians, are now finding out that it is not true and are losing their health insurance coverage.  It is not enough to talk about the failure of Obamacare or complain about the lack of leadership from Washington, we need to do whatever we can at the state level to help individuals and families who are losing their health insurance coverage in just a few weeks.”