140,000 Minnesotans among those getting 'cancelation' letters from insurers


The Star Tribune reports that at least 140,000 Minnesotans are among those nationwide who have been getting notifications that their health insurance plans will soon no longer be available in the wake of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

The Obama administration is under fire again this week over the nation's new health care law, this time because of a fast-growing controversy over hundreds of thousands of "canceled" plans.

At issue is language in the 2010 health care law that applies to people who buy health insurance on their own in the individual insurance market (roughly 15 million people, or 5 percent of the market). The language says that health insurance policies that fail to offer certain benefits, such as prescription drug coverage and free preventive care, can no longer be offered – even if those plans are cheaper, Bloomberg notes.

That prompted some insurance companies to begin notifying customers that their plans would no longer be valid. In some cases, insurers are offering better insurance – at a higher rate.

In response, Obama made reference to "bad apple" insurers. "One of the things health reform was designed to do was to help not only the uninsured but also the under-insured," Obama said. "And there are a number of Americans, fewer than 5 percent of Americans, who've got cut-rate plans that don't offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident."

But Obama is taking fire, in large part because he made a campaign promise that people could keep their insurance if they liked it. “It wasn’t true when he said it years ago, and, as millions of Americans are finding out, it’s not true now,” House Speaker John Boehner said.

The Star Tribune notes that Minnesota is unlike many other states in that it guarantees that people can renew their health insurance plans, so that by definition no one's plan is being "canceled." But many people are likely looking at much higher rates. "These are big impacts to a lot of people,” Medica Vice President Dannette Coleman told the newspaper.

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