BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon has agreed to implement a federal health care act adjustment that could mean 93,000 residents who were facing canceled health insurance policies might be able to keep their existing plans for another year.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana - which provides 60,000 of the 93,000 plans in jeopardy - has said it will try to extend all of the coverage that it had previously slated for cancellation after Donelon's decision Wednesday.
President Barack Obama announced two weeks ago that state insurance departments could allow certain types of health care policies to continue to be offered, even though they didn't comply with the Affordable Care Act. The Times-Picayune reports Donelon took longer than many of his colleagues in other states to resolve how he would proceed.
About two-thirds of the state insurance commissioners had already accepted or rejected the change by the time he made his announcement Wednesday.
"We will contact those affected with specific instructions on how they can keep their policies if they choose to do so," said John Maginnis, vice president of corporate communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana.
Blue Cross Blue Shield, Louisiana's largest health insurance provider, said it wants to encourage people to continue looking at health coverage on the federally-run health care marketplace, despite problems with its troubled website, HealthCare.gov. The insurance company says several comprehensive plans - which offer better coverage than the policies that were earlier scheduled to be canceled - are available there.
"We are also letting these members know that they still have the option to shop for a new plan on the federal health insurance marketplace, where they may find ... plans with richer benefits - possibly at a lower cost if they qualify for a government tax credit, or subsidy," Maginnis said.
At first, Donelon was reluctant to accept Obama's change in Louisiana, saying it could threaten the viability of certain insurance companies in the state. He was also concerned that Obama wasn't authorized to make such an adjustment without the approval of the U.S. Congress.
"There were multiple legal, solvency and cost issues that I need to get my people to look at and consider," said Donelon, who is also head of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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