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Most Floridians with cancelled healthcare insurance would qualify for ACA subsidies

By on November 25, 2013

A majority of Floridians buying their own health insurance would be eligible for financial support under ObamaCare, reports Laura Green in the Palm Beach Post.

Although nearly 400,000 consumers In Florida got healthcare cancellation notices, more than two-thirds of them would be able to get some kind of price break through federal exchanges, according to a study by the advocacy group Families USA.

“The overwhelming majority of people with private individual health insurance today will soon be able to receive better coverage and pay lower premiums due to the Affordable Care Act,” Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, told the Post.

In addition, the study found that nearly two-thirds of those cancelled policies would have lost or left their plan in the next year anyway, regardless of the changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act.

A flood of cancellation notices forced President Barack Obama to back away from part of his signature legislation, the assurance that Americans could keep their plans if they liked them.

The Affordable Care Act protected plans in effect before the law was enacted, but not against insurance companies cancelling policies that did not meet the standards of the ACA. Many of the letters specifically blamed the ACA.

The Obama Administration expected this situation, at least in internal communications, but failed to make the difference public. Because of the ensuing outrage, Obama quickly added an administrative rule change permitting insurers to continue offering their current plans, even if they don’t meet the new ACA standards.

Several of Florida’s largest insurance companies say they will remain with current plans.

Florida participation in the individual market is relatively small, around 5.9 percent — or 915,000 of the 15.5 million state residents. Of that number, only about 45 percent will have their plans phased out.

“Obviously this is a concern for anyone receiving a termination notice, especially if they have not yet found an alternative at least as good,” Pollack told the Post.

Sixty-six percent Floridians buying individual insurance earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty levels, which means they get an allowance. Lower incomes result in higher subsidies.

Individuals at 400 percent of the federal poverty line are those earning less than $45,960. The amount rises to $94,200 for a family of four. A 27-year-old earning $15,000 a year would get $195.12 allowance a month. If the same person earns $30,000, they could see only $10.82 in aid.

There is a problem in the subsidy system. In Florida, a few of the poorest residents will not qualify for subsidies. The ACA assumed Medicaid would include those people. But the GOP-led legislature opted out of that provision. 

Even with assistance, some consumers may find themselves paying more each month for a plan since the new plans are required to cover more.

“A key purpose of the Affordable Care Act is not just to make sure that more people can gain coverage,” Pollack said, “but that the coverage is real.”