The Republican-controlled House of Representatives yesterday passed HR 3350, the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013. In a nutshell, the Act allows issuers to keep in force plans they have already issued versus cancelling them because they may not meet the qualifications of the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, the Act says that:
” … a health insurance issuer that has in effect health insurance coverage in the individual market as of January 1, 2013, may continue after such date to offer such coverage for sale during 2014 in such market outside of an Exchange established under section 1311 or 1321 of such Act.”
In short, a consumer does not have to enter the existing market or a federal or state health insurance exchange to purchase a new policy. The Act also appears to take a swipe at the individual mandate by ensuring that consumers that already have coverage are not put in a scenario where they violate the law by not having coverage on January 1, 2014.
There has also been unfounded chatter on social media from the ACA’s supporters that HR 3350 would remove consumer protections. I don’t see that. The consumer protections that comes with an existing policy are not going anywhere. In addition, HR 3350 contains no language removing any consumer protections from the ACA. HR 3350 doesn’t prevent agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general, or any other consumer protection agencies from addressing consumer complaints.
Since the bill does not regulate rates or increase any subsidies to the uninsured, there will probably not be a dramatic increase in the rate of change in new applications for or acceptance to health care insurance networks. Georgia’s 1,682,310 uninsured residents may have to settle for Medicaid, if they qualify; accessing the federal government’s exchange, once confidence in its use increases and technical problems resolved; or apply for insurance directly from insurance companies.