Can I Keep My Health Care Plan Under Obamacare?
If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep it...
If you like your plan you can keep it. Under ObamaCare you can keep your health insurance until 2015, even if it doesn't comply with the ACA. Come 2015, if your plan doesn't have a grandfathered status and doesn't meet the requirements of the ACA, then you will have to choose a new plan. Let's look a little deeper into the details you need to know about keeping your plan.
SPECIAL UPDATE: You can now keep your plan until 2017 in some states!
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, i.e. the department in charge of ObamaCare) has announced that health insurance plans that were supposed to be canceled by Obamacare by 2014 may be sold through October of 2016 in states that approve of the extension. This essentially extends some non-compliant non-grandfathered plans until 2017 (a plan renewed in 2016 is good for one year, the latest date to renew your plan is October 2016).
Americans Can Now Keep Their Plans Until 2015
The Affordable Care Act contains provisions that state that health plans that don't have a grandfathered status and don't comply with the ACA need to be changed by 2014. After a lot of controversy and millions of Americans facing losing their health insurance for 2014, the President announced a fix that allows for insurance companies to reinstate health plans that were canceled until 2015 and has allowed insurance companies to renew other non-compliant health plans until 2015 as well.
However, insurance companies must tell policy holders that their plans do not meet the new minimum standards and must inform them about other options on the new marketplaces, including the availability of subsidies to help them pay their insurance costs.
This move will allow Americans to shop around on the exchanges and see if their is a better option for them and their family while still allowing them to keep their current health plan, regardless of if it meets the new standards of the Affordable Care Act.
All new plans sold in 2014 still have to comply with the ACA.
Can I Keep My Current Health Plan Overview?
Private health plans, including employer group health plans, that don't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act and don't have a grandfathered status may have to be switched to health plans that do. You can keep your current health plan after 2015 if:
Some States with working health insurance marketplaces, like Washington State, have rejected the "fix" to let people to keep health insurance plans that would be canceled under the Affordable Care Act . Your insurance company will be able to confirm whether you can keep your plan, or buy a non-compliant plan in your State.
Your private plan has grandfathered status and remains unchanged by the provider.
You have a non-grandfathered private plan that meets the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (listed below).
You have Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE or another form of Public health care.
You may have to switch to a new health plan if:
Your plan doesn't have, or loses, grandfathered status and doesn't meet the requirements of the ACA.
Learn more about ObamaCare and Grandfathered Status.
Why Can't I Keep My Health Insurance?
Everyone is required to have insurance for 2014, allowing some to keep their plans and others to buy new plans with more coverage will unbalance the cost of premiums. It creates two separate pools of healthy and sick people.
The healthy people would be more likely to stick with the old plans, which cost less and offer less coverage because they don’t expect to need it. Meanwhile, sick people would buy the more expensive, comprehensive plans.
The point of discontinuing plans that didn't provide adequate coverage was to ensure that if everyone had to have coverage then they would all have to be part of the same risk pool, ensuring that prices were at their most affordable for everyone.
Below are some of the benefits of new insurance plans that plans that face or will face cancellation don't have to adhere to.
The Truth Behind, "If You Like Your Plan You Can Keep it"
A common talking point of supporters of the Affordable Care Act was, "if you like your plan you can keep it." Like many other talking points this is only a half truth. The quote should be, "If you have a non-grandfathered plan that meets the requirements of the ACA, you can keep it. Also if you have a grandfathered health plan that doesn't meet the requirements of the ACA you can keep it as long as the benefits remain relativity unchanged. However, most grandfathered plans will change and will require people on those plans to move to a new plan that does meet the requirements of the ACA."
In order for a plan to be in danger of cancellation it is most likely not offering at least one of these new mandatory benefits, rights, and protections:
1. A Ban on denied treatment or coverage for preexisting conditions. You can't be denied or dropped from coverage for being sick.
2. Ten Essential Health Benefits. Essential Health Benefits have no annual or lifetime dollar limits.
3. A Ban on rescission of health insurance coverage and the right to an appeal. You can't be dropped for any reason other than fraud and if you are dropped you have the right to a quick internal and external appeal.
4. Ban on Discrimination based on gender or health. You can no longer be charged more for being a woman.
5. Ban on all lifetime limits and $2,000,000 Cap on annual limits. You are more protected from bankruptcy due to costly medical expenses.
6. Free Preventive Services and Wellness Visits.
Can I Keep My Current Non-Grandfathered Plan?
If your plan doesn't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act and it's not protected by its grandfathered status then your insurance company will either issue you a new plan or cancel your current plan and let you know other plan options available to you. In some cases your insurer will notify you by mail, in other cases they will provide more assistance. While this can be a pain, the new plan you get will offer the new benefits, rights, and protections guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.
Will a New Plan Cost Me More?
In some cases new plans will have better protections for a higher cost and in some cases families will get a cheaper plan with better benefits. The important thing to realize is that no matter how good your premium prices, cost sharing, or network was on your old plan it didn't have the same rights and protections of newer plans. Also note that if you make under 400% of the Federal Poverty Level in 2014 you will have access to cost assistance through the health insurance marketplace. In most cases you can find an equivalent plan to what you have now through your current insurer or the marketplace.
The Dangers of Keeping an Old Health Care Plan
Please be aware that health insurance plans are being dropped for a reason in many cases. Some older plans don't offer reasonable coverage, or can drop you when you get sick, or deny you treatment when you need it most. Annual and lifetime limits on your care can led to bankruptcy and many plans can currently charge women significantly more than men. Make sure you understand what rights and protections your plan offers.
Also make sure that you check out your State's health insurance marketplace and see if you qualify for cost assistance.
The Benefits Of Keeping Your Old Health Care Plan
For some Americans they will want to keep their old health insurance policy as long as possible. If your plan has a grandfathered status you are safe, if it doesn't you'll be able to keep it until 2015. Older grandfathered plans don't have to comply with the new law and for some this means they will be able to get lower rates and also get the care they need. See our page on grandfathered health plans for more "benefits of grandfathered plans".
At the end of the day we suggest that everyone take 2014 to apply for their State's health insurance marketplace and to see what their options are. This way when 2015 rolls around there will be far less confusion as to what your health insurance options are. Learn more about Grandfathered Health Plans (the plans you CAN keep) and the Health Insurance Marketplace (where you go to get a new plan that complies with the ACA).