CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Nearly two months after the health insurance enrollment window opened through the federal exchange serving West Virginia, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Riley reported progress for those seeking coverage.
“It is operating much, much better now and people are successfully enrolling through the website,” said Riley of healthcare.gov, the federally-run enrollment portal for West Virginia and more than 30 other states. The enrollment period continues until March 31, 2014.
Riley said there are many reasons why West Virginia rejected President Barack Obama’s recent proposal which allows health insurance companies to renew coverage plans not in compliance with the Affordable Care Act for one more year.
“We thought it was just best to stay with the status quo, it keeps our marketplace a lot more stable,” said Riley on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Last week, Riley originally announced the “single year” re-enrollment proposal was not necessary in West Virginia because of the proactive steps already taken to allow for a transition period that is “consistent with the existing law.”
Health insurance companies in the Mountain State offered early renewals to people with plans that could have been subjected to cancellation under the Affordable Care Act.
“The abrupt CCIIO (Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight) proposal comes at a time when West Virginia employers, citizens and insurance carriers have already made extensive changes to comply with the new law,” Riley said.
“In order to avoid further confusion, provide market stability, mitigate potential rate impacts of the CCIIO proposal, and regulate the West Virginia insurance market in accordance with the existing law, we have decided to maintain our current direction.”
President Obama announced the possible delay earlier this month after millions of Americans received cancellation notices, despite his repeated claims that people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it under ACA.
Insurance is regulated differently in each state, so it is up to state officials to make the final decision on any delay. “We have a regulatory responsibility to enforce the law and that’s the way we’ve approached it,” said Riley.
More than half a dozen states, so far, including West Virginia, have rejected the delay proposal including New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont.
Riley said, for people who have questions about their health insurance options, there is help available.
“Individuals need to speak with their health insurance agents. These are folks that have vast experience in selling these products,” he advised. “(Highmark) Blue Cross Blue Shield is on the exchange and that’s the only carrier there, but there are other carriers out there providing coverage.”
Only those enrolling with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield are eligible for federal subsidies.
In addition to information available at healthcare.gov and through health insurance agents, questions about the Affordable Care Act and health insurance enrollment can be directed to in-person assisters at local offices for the Department of Health and Human Resources or the Bureau of Senior Services.
Those with the Consumer Services Division of the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner are also available by calling 1-888-879-9842.