Obamacare impact: Michigan rules on canceled policies


As the changes brought by the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, continue to ripple across America, one side effect has been particularly painful for consumers.

Thousands of people in Michigan has seen their current policies discontinued because they didn't meet the new standards set by the new law.

Theresa Liska of Rochester is one of those affected, and she was surprised.

"I guess I was comforted by the notion, 'Well I guess this isn't really going to affect me'... I was pretty shocked to find out that yes, this is going to affect you quite a bit!"

"In September, I started getting letters from Blue Cross and Blue Shield telling me that because of the Affordable Health Care Act, my plan would no longer be available," she told Ruth to the Rescue.

After receiving those letters, Liska was in for another unpleasant surprise. She looked at new plans from several companies and found they all had much higher premiums and higher deductibles. For example, the plan she wanted to move into had a premium of $843 compared to the $514 she was paying.

Insurance companies are now required to offer the same services for everyone. Liska says many of those services are services she does not need or want, like maternity care and substance abuse treatment.

"I don't understand where I fit into that, why I do not get to choose the kind of coverage I desire," she said.

President Obama apologized to Americans like Liska and said insurance companies should be allowed to keep existing policies for now. While the state of Michigan signed off on that idea, the insurance companies are not required to go along.

Each company will decide how to go forward regarding any canceled policies. You should check with your provider to see how its proceeding with the its policies.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has decided against reinstating any canceled policies. Instead, it says it will continue transitioning customers into the policies that meet the benefit requirements of the Affordable Care Act. It also offers a "Keep Fit" policy, the only pre-Obamacare plan that will remain in force through 2014. Blue Cross Blue Shield says it can serve as a bridge toward Obamacare appropriate policies.

"This was not an easy decision for us, but it's a responsible decision," said Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO of BCBSM. "We understand that many people are upset that federal law set forth the need to transition out of their old health plans. We are taking those calls every day. But it's responsible to
our members to promote insurance affordability.

As for Theresa Liska, she calls the whole situation a "royal mess". She blames Obamacare policies for putting the insurance companies in a no-win situation. And, she's still looking for a new insurance policy.