BlueCross BlueShield, Tenn. officials unsure of next steps after Obama announcement

President Obama's announcement Thursday that Americans can keep canceled health insurance policies for a year has left insurance companies and state officials scrambling to figure out how to respond to the latest twist in the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

The President's tweak will affect insurance companies, many of which have already dropped certain plans in order to comply new standards under federal health reform.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, for example, was ready to notify 66,000 of its members with individual policies that they would have to enroll in a new plan. The company is the state's largest underwriter of this kind of coverage, with 106,000 members total enrolled in individual plans.

Now, the company will hold off on any type of action until it fully understands the implications of the rule change. The insurer issued a statement Thursday saying:

"Since 2010, we've been committed to complying with the health care law. We're continuing to monitor these developments to understand the president's new direction. We'll seek guidance from our state and federal regulators before we can clearly define any actions we may take."

Meanwhile, state officials, specifically those at the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, should have a statement on the matter tomorrow.

According to Obama's announcement, insurance companies must also notify customers in the coming weeks of what those previously cancelled policies lack, and of options consumers have for better coverage under the new law.

"Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll," he said.

However, insurance companies are not mandated to offer the policies again, and the decision about how to carry out the change will be left to individual states.

Administration officials have said policies have been canceled because they do not comply with new coverage requirements prescribed by Obamacare, and that the new system offers consumers better, higher quality options.


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