KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

People With Canceled Plans Exempted From Insurance Mandate

In addition, the administration said Thursday that those with canceled plans will be able to buy bare-bones catastrophic plans, regardless of their age, under a hardship exemption.

The New York Times: Another Rule In Health Law Is Scaled Back
Millions of people facing the cancellation of health insurance policies will be allowed to buy catastrophic coverage and will be exempt from penalties if they go without insurance next year, the White House said Thursday night (Pear, 12/19).

Los Angeles Times: Administration Opens First Hole In Health Law Mandate
The Obama administration has opened a small, but potentially important, hole in a key requirement of the new healthcare law, letting some people who have had insurance policies cancelled avoid the requirement to buy coverage next year. The change, announced Thursday night in a letter that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent to a group of senators, marks the first exception the administration has allowed to the law's so-called individual mandate (Lauter, 12/19).

The Washington Post: Obama Administration Relaxes Rules Of Health-Care Law Four Days Before Deadline
The rule change was issued in a bulletin from the Department of Health and Human Services. It is the second major response by the Obama administration to a public and political furor that erupted in the fall when several million people who bought their own insurance began to receive notices that their policies were being canceled because they fell short of new benefit standards. The cancellations prompted complaints that President Obama had reneged on an oft-repeated promise that, under the Affordable Care Act, people who like their health plans could keep them (Goldstein, 12/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Options Set For Those Lacking New Health Coverage
Under another stopgap option Sebelius announced Thursday, those whose plans were canceled will be able to buy a bare-bones catastrophic plan regardless of their age. Such plans had been intended for those under 30. A dedicated hotline for people who got cancellations, 1-866-837-0677, is being set up by the Health and Human Services Department as part of the effort to head off more bad news coming from the chaotic rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care law (12/20).

The Wall Street Journal: White House Will Allow Some To Buy Catastrophic Health Plans
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a group of six senators in a letter that people whose policies had been canceled because of new requirements under the Affordable Care Act would be allowed to purchase "catastrophic" plans. Those plans previously had been restricted under the new law to people under the age of 30 or those who qualified for a set of specific hardship exemptions (Radnofsky, 12/19).

Reuters: Last-Minute Obamacare Exemption For Those With Canceled Plans
The Obama administration made a major last-minute policy shift on Thursday, saying the change would help Americans meet a looming deadline to replace insurance plans canceled because of new standards under Obamacare reforms. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that this group of people - estimated by the administration to be fewer than 500,000 in number - will be allowed to claim a "hardship exemption" from the requirement in the 2010 Affordable Care Act to buy insurance (Rampton, 12/19).

Bloomberg: Obama Lifts Insurance Mandate For People With Canceled Policies
Americans whose health-insurance policies are being canceled because they don’t comply with Obamacare requirements will be exempt from the law’s mandate that they carry insurance, under a policy change the Obama administration announced late today. The change, which administration officials said will affect fewer than 500,000 people, comes days before a Dec. 23 deadline for people to buy new coverage effective Jan. 1 (Wayne and Talev, 12/19).

The Hill: HHS Changes Rules On O-Care Mandate
The Obama administration announced Thursday it would broaden exemptions from ObamaCare's requirement that people have insurance. It said it would allow individuals whose health insurance was cancelled under ObamaCare to buy catastrophic plans once intended mainly for young people (Viebeck, 12/20).

CQ HealthBeat: White House To Allow People With Canceled Health Plans To Buy Catastrophic Coverage
The Obama administration is planning to announce that it will permit Americans recently hit with notices that their insurance policies are canceled to buy catastrophic coverage plans regardless of their age, according to an insurance industry source. There are also reports from an insurance industry consultant that the administration may exempt those consumers from the individual mandate in 2014 (Reichard, 12/19).

The CT Mirror: Feds Announce New Option For Insurance Customers Facing Cancellation
The federal government on Thursday offered a new option to people whose health plans are being discontinued, allowing them to purchase “catastrophic” insurance policies with high deductibles that the federal health care law prohibits most people from buying. The announcement, less than two weeks before the first insurance policies sold as part of the Affordable Care Act take effect, drew sharp criticism from the trade group representing health insurance companies. “This latest rule change could cause significant instability in the marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers,” Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, said in a statement (Becker, 12/20).

CNN: White House Announces Option To Buy Catastrophic Coverage
The White House said Thursday that far fewer people than critics projected had lost their insurance plans and failed to get new coverage since the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Obama administration also said it would allow those Americans who had their individual insurance policies canceled due to Obamacare to buy catastrophic coverage, as an option so they do not fall through the cracks at the start of the year. “This is a commonsense clarification of the law. For the limited number of consumers whose plans have been cancelled and are seeking coverage, this is one more option," Health and Human Services spokesperson Joanne Peters told CNN (Liptak, 12/19).

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