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Aetna will not allow Illinois residents to renew canceled plans

FILE - This phopart website is photographed Washingtthis Nov. 29 2013 file photo. Newly released federal figures as Nov.

FILE - This photo of part of the website is photographed in Washington, in this Nov. 29, 2013 file photo. Newly released federal figures, as of Nov. 30, 2013, show more people are picking private insurance plans or being routed to Medicaid programs in states with Democratic leaders who have fully embraced the federal health care law than in states where Republican elected officials have derisively rejected what they call "Obamacare." (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File) ORG XMIT: NY108

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Updated: January 14, 2014 12:55PM

Aetna Inc. said it will not renew its health insurance plans or Coventry Health Care for Illinois residents who were canceled because they did not meet the requirements of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Amid numerous reports that many Americans were losing their insurance plans, Obama had said insurers would have the option to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled because they fall short of coverage requirements under the nation’s health overhaul, if their state allowed them to. Illinois did, but it’s ultimately up to individual insurers.

Aetna said renewing canceled plans would have been too confusing to its consumers and given Aetna too little time to go through the regulatory process it needs to do so, a spokesman said.

It is not known how many Aetna customers received notices of cancellation. But the bottom line for those customers is that they will have to get a new policy through Aetna or buy insurance somewhere else, unless they signed up to do early renewal of their plan.

Aetna said some of those customers may have received cancellation plans, but their insurance plan will not actually be interrupted if they chose early renewal, which will extend their 2013 plan through the end of 2014.

“We were early proponents of giving eligible consumers and small businesses the option to extend their current plan into 2014. Since June, we’ve advised them that they have the option to select a December 2013 plan, which allows them to carry their current plan into 2014,” an Aetna statement said. “We believe that our early renewal strategy meets the spirit of recent ‘Keep What You Have’ proposals.”

Nearly 50 percent of individuals applied for early renewal, Aetna said, but it is not clear how many of the people who received cancellation were eligible for early renewal.

Coventry Health Care did not have the option for early renewal for people with individual plans.

About 185,340 people in Illinois received notification from their insurers that their plans would end on Dec. 31 because they didn’t adhere to new coverage requirements, such as requirements that they cover prescription drugs and maternity care, the Illinois Department of Insurance said.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, the largest insurer in Illinois, has said that it will renew plans for a year. Health Alliance Medical Plans Inc. will do the same.

Humana Health Plan, Inc. and Humana Insurance Company couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Company, meanwhile, was created by the Affordable Care Act and therefore did not have any existing plans that were canceled.

In other news, the Obama administration is strongly encouraging health insurance companies to cut consumers some slack in January when new coverage takes effect under the president’s overhaul.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a batch of measures Thursday to minimize disruptions during the transition, such as requiring insurers to accept anyone who pays a premium by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31.

“There’s still ample time for folks to research their options, talk things over with their families and select a plan,” Sebelius said in a call with reporters.

Contributing: AP


Twitter: @MonifaThomas1

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