Kansas' insurance commissioner said Thursday the Obama administration's decision to delay by a year the cancellation of health care policies that no longer meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act could have unintended consequences.
"It does create problems for the insurance companies," Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said. "It does create potentially problems for the whole health reform if you don't have everybody playing by the same rules. … It was a very carefully crafted piece of legislation. We said from the get-go that if you start taking pieces out of this it will collapse."
Still, she said she understands why the decision was made. Many Kansans have received notices that their health insurance policies would be cancelled at the beginning of the year, after President Barack Obama had repeatedly stated that if people liked their polices they could them keep them.
Praeger said this all might not have been an issue if the federal insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov had been working properly. The website, which is where people in the 36 states (including Kansas) that chose not to set up their own exchanges buy insurance, has been ravaged by technical glitches, and many Americans have been unable to view the new coverage options.
"(The cancelled policy holders) probably would have been eligible in many cases to buy more comprehensive coverage with a tax credit that is applied prospectively," Praeger said. "A lot of these cancellation notices were in effect before the website rolled out. But we've had this, as (Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) said, 'debacle.'"'
Praeger added that while she wishes Kansas had been able to create its own health insurance exchange — Gov. Sam Brownback chose not to — her department has set up a site, InsureKS.org, that allows people to explore the new insurance plans and see how much of a tax subsidy they might be eligible for.