Canceled health insurance plans allowed to continue

By Christine Roto

JEFFERSON CITY — Health insurance companies will be allowed to renew their health insurance plans set to expire Dec. 31 because of the new federal health care law, according to a statement issued by Gov. Jay Nixon.

John Huff, the director of the state’s Insurance Department, sent a letter to Missouri health insurance providers Thursday, declaring that providers could continue coverage on plans they previously had filed notices to cancel, if they file new plans.

The process, however, requires an insurance company to refile the plan it previously had rescinded. The department promised it would try to expedite the process within 48 hours if the refiled policy was unchanged.

“In an effort to give Missourians as many insurance options as possible, the department will expedite the process for health insurance companies wishing to continue their Missouri-compliant plans into next year,” Huff was quoted as saying in a written statement released by the governor.

The Insurance Department’s website indicated that insurance companies had filed cancellations of 14 different types of health insurance plans for 2014 based on requirements imposed by the new federal health care law. The website did not indicate how many, if any, policyholders would be affected.

Nationwide, there have been reports that millions of policyholders have received notices that their health insurance plans would be canceled because they do not comply with new federal requirements.

Facing growing criticism, President Barack Obama had announced he would postpone those insurance-coverage requirements for one year. Previously, Obama repeatedly had said that if people liked their current plan then they could keep it once the health care law went into effect.

The Missouri Insurance Department’s announcement came just a few hours after Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, called on Huff to allow renewal of the cancelled health insurance plans. He said Missouri was one of six states not to allow renewals and that it was necessary so Missourians did not feel the “blunt” effects of losing their coverage.

“Doing so quickly would give as many Missourians as possible the opportunity to renew their policies before their cancellation at the end of the year,” Barnes said in a statement on his website.

For nearly a week after Obama’s announcement delaying insurance-policy requirements under the federal law, Huff was not available for comment and a department spokesperson said they were reviewing the issue.