Insurance delays give Philly policyholders time to weigh options

    Now that President Barack Obama is delaying the cancellation of individual health care plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act’s regulations, insurance companies will be able to renew those plans for one year.

    Glenside resident Barry Glickstein said he isn’t sure if he will keep his plan or search for something better on the exchange. Glickstein, who recently received a cancellation notice from Independence Blue Cross for his $585 a month individual plan, said he wants to compare deductible rates and drug and hospital costs.

    “What I will do is, when I talk to the navigator, I will go over the plans, see what they are, see what the costs are, see what the savings are, if any, and if I’m allowed to keep my old plan and it’s better than Obamacare plans, I would definitely keep my old plan,” said Glickstein.

    Obama’s delay has not made him any less worried about the new system.

    “I believe they don’t have any idea what they are doing, how they are doing it, or anything else. So I am still afraid if they do say you can keep it and then they change their mind last minute, you are now uninsured,” said Glickstein.

    The notice Glickstein received was one of 24,000 cancellations Independence Blue Cross sent to Philadelphia-area guaranteed issue members, those eligible by law for coverage despite any pre-existing conditions. Aetna also sent similar cancellation notices.

    Alec Meltzer, a freelance graphic designer from South Philadelphia, pays $150 a month for a high-deductible plan from Aetna.

    “I was hoping to enroll in the exchange but the rates seemed pretty high compared to what I’ve been paying and not really getting a whole lot more for the money, so if the opportunity to keep my existing plan for a third of the price is offered to me for another year, I’ll just do that,” said Meltzer.

    Walter Cherniak, an Aetna spokesman, said the company supports the delay, adding that many other people will have to sign off on the new timetable.

    “We will need cooperation and expedited approval from state regulators to remove barriers that would make it difficult to make this change in such a short period of time,” said Cherniak.

    “State regulators will need to allow us to update our policies and secure appropriate rates so we can get these plans back in the market,” he added.

    The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is warning the delay will cause confusion and create “different rules for different policies” that may undermine the insurance market.

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