President’s Obama’s announcment this week that he is extending the ability of people who have had their individual health plans canceled by one year is causing confusion among policy holders and govenment officials in Hampshire. In early October, thousands of New Hampshire residents with individual health insurance plans from health carriers such as Anthem received notices that due to the restrictions and conditions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, their current policies were no longer available and were being canceled. These people were directed to contact the health carrier for options, or to search for new coverage in the “exchange,” through the now infamous healthcare government website. In the fact of extreme political pressure, particularly in light of the President’s prior promise that “if you like your current health plan, you will be able to keep it,” Obama announced this week that policyholders will be allowed to keep their current plans for an additional year. The problem that I have been hearing with this new twist, however, is that the plans that have been canceled are no longer available. In other words, trying to extend your old plan is like trying to purchase a product that is no longer being manufactured, and is no longer available for purchase on store shelves. Therefore, while the President’s proposal may soften political pressure from some circles (although that appears doubtful), the question is will it have any effect for the policyholders that have already had their coverage canceled? The New Hampshire Insurance Commission was also caught by surprise by this announcement, and must now determine whether such a retroactive extension of canceled health insurance plans is possible under New Hampshire law and New Hampshire’s insurance regulatory scheme. Stay tuned. The problem with all of this is that people are facing a potential “gap” in their health coverage, which could have catastrophic results in the event of a serious personal injury from an auto accident or through the negligent conduct of others. This is all the more reason that, at the very least, people should make sure that their personal auto insurance policies and homeowner’s policies, and in particular medical payment limits and uninsured motorist limits are sufficiently high to cover the anticipated medical expenses associated with such accidental injury.
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