EDITORS NOTES: OK so they are not being dropped, but are having to move to Obamacare. Now the questions are #1 can they keep their doctors (like Obama said they could) and #2 will their premiums & coverage go up or down? These are very important items & information to know about.
By Matt Dixon
Tallahassee | A top Florida Blue official said Wednesday that the cancellation of 300,000 individual health insurance policies does not mean affected customers will lose coverage. Rather, it’s part of a “transition” to the Affordable Care Act.
Those customers, though, will receive notice by mail that their existing policy is no longer available and they should reach out to the Jacksonville-based company for guidance.
The canceled policies are those that don’t offer coverage broad enough to be considered as “qualified health plans” under the Affordable Care Act. Qualified plans must include coverage for things like maternity and newborn care, mental health, substance abuse services and emergency services, among other things.
“Essentially, we have to put them into plans that are filed an approved as qualified health plans,” said Jon Urbanek, one of the company’s senior vice presidents.
The Times-Union reported the cancelations Tuesday, but company officials were unavailable to answer follow-up questions.
Health insurance companies across the country have been going through similar cancellations as they remove plans that are not qualified plans.
Urbanek said he does not know how many people have enrolled with Florida Blue through online market places created under the new health care, commonly referred to as ObamaCare. Since going live Oct. 1, the federal-run marketplace has been dogged by long online wait times and people unable to sign up for coverage.
“We look to the feds to provide us those, and I have not seen updated number,” he said. “I kind of know what applications we are taking in, I can’t differentiate those.”
He also said that the Department of Health and Human Services has not asked Florida Blue to withhold the number of people enrolling through online marketplaces. On Tuesday, a North Dakota newspaper reported Blue Cross and Blue Shield in that state had been told not to release enrollment numbers.
The company retracted that claim Wednesday, saying an employee “misunderstood internal discussion,” according to the Forum of Fargo-Moorehead.
“I am not aware of that at all,” Urbanek said.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Florida Blue said it will offer affected customers “recommendations for new plan options, and encourage them to contact us so we can help determine their best course of action.”
“This is more of a transition,” Urbanek said. “We are not terminating anyone’s coverage.”
He said that Florida Blue does not know exactly how much the Affordable Care Act will cost the company. During spring’s legislative session, company lobbyists told lawmakers that it would cost an estimated $110 million.
Urbanek did say he expected Florida Blue’s enrollment numbers to grow under Obamacare, but could not supply specific estimates.
Matt Dixon: (352) 233-0777
Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/business/2013-10-22/story/florida-blue-policies-transition-not-being-dropped#ixzz2ifUZQarl