Oregon will allow insurers to extend policies set for cancellation

Oregon's insurance commissioner is allowing health insurers to extend for up to a year health plans that had been slated for cancellation because they don't comply with the federal health care law.

Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali said today she is giving insurance companies the option to extend health plans in the individual and small group markets through Dec. 31, 2014.

Cali's action follows President Obama's announcement Thursday granting state commissioners the ability to delay policy cancellations.

Both state and federal registration for health plans through exchanges have been plagued with technical issues.

Cali's decision affects plans in place as of Oct. 1 that would otherwise be canceled because they do not meet minimum coverage requirements and financial protections under the Affordable Care Act.

The move announced today means some of the 145,000 people who have received notices that their insurance will be cancelled may be able to keep their plans.

Another 193,000 Oregonians are covered by small employer plans that are currently scheduled to end on their renewal date, which may be as early as Dec. 31.

"If an insurer chooses to offer extensions, it will need to notify the Oregon Insurance Division and contact customers directly about their options," Cali said a statement.

She is leaving it up to insurance companies to decide whether they want to continue plans. She expects the division will provide insurers with more detailed guidance next week.

Cali said staying in the same plan may not be the best option for many Oregonians.

Federal subsidies to lower insurance costs are available only to people who buy new plans with essential benefits through Cover Oregon, the state's health insurance marketplace. People should apply as soon as possible to take advantage of federal tax credits that start Jan. 1.

— Greg Stiles

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