Column 21 Plan extensions update & internet security?

I am intrigued by all this concern that the government wants to know all about your history when it requests answers to certain questions for internet security at account set up.  I think it's important to understand that you don't have to answer all those questions honestly.  It is simply creating a data set to confirm your identity. You could answer abcdefg or 123456 if it requires numeric entry. While I am not tech genius, it seems to me that would make more sense anyway.  Just a thought.

Update on the option to continue coverage on Non-Grandfathered plans with Blue Shield:  Should you wish to continue your plan through March 2014, you must notify Blue Shield.  This will not be done unless you specifically request the extension by 12/6/2013.  This can be done by calling 855-836-9703.  To obtain more information  I suggest that if you call the number directly you ask for a confirmation number or the name of the individual who is assisting you.  If you do the latter, note the time and date of the call and follow up later in the month to be sure it is activated. 

Remember that you will not be given credit for deductibles or out of pocket expenses met on the existing plan when you do change plans. Further, if you qualify for subsidies due to your income, those are not available on these plans. Note that while they may not cancel your coverage until that time for other than lack of premium payment or fraud, you may cancel your coverage should you find a better option in the interim. 

We were also notified that Anthem Blue Cross that they will be providing an extension as well.  However, theirs is only to the end of February. This is only being offered to 100,000 of Anthem's 800,000 individual clients.  These folks apparently missed a notification by four days, so Department of Insurance can require this offer. Apparently effected individuals will receive a letter informing them of their right to extend.  Also Anthem has said they will credit deductibles for insureds who have extended coverage into the new year.

                Remember, this does not refer to the Medicare Supplement market.  Nothing change there!

One challenge for insurers in CA is the fact that there are two sets of regulators for health plans:  Department of Insurance (DOI) and Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC).
As of January, all of Anthem's exchange policies will be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Managed Health Care, not the Department of Insurance. Unfortunately the off-Exchange pediatric dental benefit has been in to the DOI for approval.  The on Exchange version has been approved, but the off Exchange version has not.  Note these are the exact same plans. This has created a big problem for trying to enroll off Exchange individuals in an Anthem plan.  As of this writing, Anthem has now requested the pediatric dental to be approved by DMHC in hopes of actually being able to enroll business off the Exchange.

What I find fascinating is the expense the insurers must incur to meet these deadlines and prepare to close off a block of business, only to have it extended.  Personally I am grateful for the extension because I am unable to sleep at night worrying how I am going to be able to consult with everyone in my practice about their options.  I know most agents are in the same place.  

If you will indulge me a bit of a rant from an agent's perspective, I think it is beyond ludicrous that the regulators can approve the Anthem products ON the Exchange, but not yet approve the mirror or same product off the Exchange.  We are selling a product that we have yet to see a full contract.  Just a note, this has nothing to do with the Exchange or "Obamacare".  This one rests solely on the back of the state of CA. These products have been "in" for months.  I simply cannot fathom what is holding this up.

Another caution is that the networks are fluid.  In reviewing the Anthem network with a popular primary care group in town, I asked why they did not participate in the Anthem Pathway X network.  "We aren't?" was the reply.  They are now looking to see how they can get into this network. I have had one client who is scheduling a surgery in January ask her surgeon's offices if they are in the respective networks and has met a dead end.  The office didn't know.  So, clearly it is an unsettled market right now.

*Information provided in this column is "to the best of my knowledge based on press deadline