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Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

Understanding Obamacare: You Can Keep Your Insurance Plan

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Question: Can I keep my current plan under Obamacare?

Answer: Despite quite a bit of attention on the matter recently, the vast majority of Americans will be able to keep their plan under Obamacare. In fact, in Wisconsin 93% of citizens do not purchase individual plans, and only a fraction of the remainder have any concern with their policy. 

The law “grandfathered” all plans that started before the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, passed on March 23, 2010. As long as these grandfathered plans didn’t greatly change, they can remain in place. Grandfathered plans did not need to offer free preventive care, and individual plans could still drop your coverage if you became sick.

Plans that started after Obamacare passed in 2010 are required to comply with new consumer protections and offer basic minimal coverage by 2014. Insurance companies were well aware of these rules when the plans were sold. Unfortunately, some insurance companies did not report to their customers that their plans do not meet the minimum basic standards under Obamacare.

Incomplete information and technological issues have caused confusion, but also reveal another benefit of Obamacare: it is not a rigid law but a flexible one. As of this writing those who have purchased an individual plan since 2010 will be allowed to treat that plan as “grandfathered” too. However, insurance companies must tell you the benefits that they won’t be covering and must inform you of how to purchase coverage on the new marketplace, healthcare.gov. You will be allowed to keep your policy under Obamacare, but individual policyholders might benefit from checking out healthcare.gov to see if a marketplace plan would have better coverage and be more affordable. Thanks, Obamacare.

—Kevin Kane, lead organizer, Citizen Action of Wisconsin

The Shepherd Express and Citizen Action of Wisconsin will answer questions about the Affordable Care Act during its implementation. Got a question? Email editor@shepex.com.