By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog
OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — As a result of Obamacare, nearly 19,500 Kansas health care plans will be canceled in the coming months, forcing individuals to purchase an Affordable Care Act-compliant plan either privately or on the federal insurance exchange.
And it’s almost certain to be more expensive, said Aetna health care spokesperson Cynthia Michener.
Way back in 2009, when Obamacare was still a hope in the president’s mind and an unknown entity to the general public, Barack Obama made his now infamous pledge: “If you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future.”
Figures released by Kansas health insurance providers have shown it to be a bold misstatement, if not an outright lie.
Spokespersons with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City told Kansas Watchdog that large swaths of Kansas insurance contracts will be canceled — they prefer the term “non-renewed” — at the end of 2013 because they don’t meet coverage requirements set forth by the ACA.
Individuals can only keep such plans if they were in place prior to 2010, allowing them to be grandfathered in under the provisions of the health care law.
While the current figure of nearly 19,500 impending cancellations is staggering, it’s only just the beginning. Michener said Aetna, the parent company for Coventry Health Care, doesn’t have a current count of how many contracts will not be renewed in the Sunflower State. Additionally, Kansas Watchdog has yet to receive a response from numerous other, smaller health insurance providers operating in Kansas.
For now, there’s no telling just how many Kansans will be forced off their plans because of Obamacare. Also, keep in mind this poignant fact: The nearly 19,500 cancellations only refer to contracts, which can cover multiple individuals. If we’re defining cancellations by sheer number of persons affected, well, the sky’s the limit.
Mary Beth Chambers, corporate communications manager for BCBSKS, said the group started sending out cancellation notices in September. She said the result has been “a mixed bag. Customer service is getting calls from people who need to understand why this is happening, so we’re explaining.”
So, what exactly is that explanation? Michener said Obamacare mandates a base-level of coverage for health care plans, ranging from the inclusion of substance abuse services to prescription drugs and mental health. And even if you’re a 59-year-old single male, you’ll still be required to carry maternity and newborn care coverage.
“Health insurers will be required to cover more of the cost of care, which is good news for the uninsured and individuals with pre-existing conditions,” Michener said. “However, richer benefits will often result in higher premiums for many consumers who currently purchase health insurance on their own.”
Chambers has been reluctant to say whether Kansas consumers will pay a higher price because of Obamacare.
“As a habit we do not give out average premium costs because there are so many varying factors in figuring a premium that it is impossible,” Chambers told the Topeka Capitol-Journal. “In this case it would not be an apple-to-apple comparison because the benefits are different. Also, how the premium is built for a person is totally different.”
BCBSKC only operates in two counties — Johnson and Wyandotte — while BCBSKS serves the rest of Kansas.
Contact Travis Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @muckraker62. Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!
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