(Facts beat fiction every time – promoted by Colorado Pols)
Every time we turn on the TV, we see a new political ad opposing the Affordable Care Act. How do some of these claims stand up to closer examination?
Claim: 355,000 Coloradans have received cancellation notices for health insurance policies.
What you need to know: It’s true that thousands of Coloradans were notified in 2013 that their policies would not be renewed in 2014. Note the time frame: It was a one-time event, prompted by provisions in the ACA that required insurance policies to meet minimum standards.
Whether the letters were called “cancellation notices” – an incorrect term – or “non-renewal notices” – a more accurate description – the reason for the change in most cases was that the policies did not include the ACA’s 10 essential benefits. These include preventive-care services and coverage for pregnancy and mental health, and they are designed to ensure that Americans have adequate insurance for health emergencies.
Use of the term “cancellation notice” implies that customers were cut loose, left high and dry. In fact, because of the ACA, insurance companies were required to give customers the option of purchasing an alternative policy. Customers also had the option of buying a competing plan through the health insurance exchange. Those plans had the potential to be cheaper, and if a customer’s income was low enough, subsidies could make coverage even more affordable.
Also, after complaints and to help people navigate the new landscape, the Colorado Division of Insurance allowed policyholders to keep non-compliant plans through the end of 2015, as long as the carrier continued to offer them.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that the individual market was unpredictable for customers before the ACA. Insurance companies often canceled or changed policies every year, forcing families to scramble for new policies or settle for ones that often didn’t meet their needs.