Insurance executives ask for changes to ObamaCare

Insurance executives ask for changes to ObamaCare

Health insurance executives went to the White House on Monday and called for changes to ObamaCare that they say are necessary to keep the healthcare exchanges working.

The executives discussed a series of their long-running complaints about ObamaCare including tightening up the rules for extra sign-up periods, shortening grace periods for people who fail to pay their premiums and easing restrictions on setting premiums based on someone’s age. 

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Insurers say these changes would help shore up their finances. Several large insurers have in recent months announced they are pulling back from ObamaCare, citing financial losses. 

The meeting included Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mary Mathews BurwellWhy Trump will win the wall fight Price was a disaster for HHS — Time for an administrator, not an ideologue Overnight Healthcare: GOP chairman to introduce pre-existing condition bill MORE, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, and executives from Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in several states as well insurers like Humana and Molina.

President Obama dropped by for part of the meeting, the White House said.  

The insurance officials called on the administration to enact a system where it checks enrollees’ documentation to make sure they are eligible for extra sign up periods before they sign up, as opposed to after they are already enrolled, industry sources said. 

Insurers have complained that people are gaming the system by using these extra sign up periods to wait to get insurance until they are sick. The sign-up periods are designed only for people who fit special conditions, for example having just moved residences. 

The administration has already taken some steps to address complaints around these “Special Enrollment Periods,” but has not gone as far as insurers would like. 

Insurers also told officials that they wanted the administration to shorten the grace periods for people who don’t pay premiums. Currently, people who fail to pay up keep getting coverage for 90 days. Insurers want states to be able to set a shorter time period. 

Finally, the insurance officials said they want to loosen restrictions that require insurers to charge older people only three times as much as younger people. Changing that requirement, unlike the other issues, would require an act of Congress, so an industry source said that topic received less of a focus at the meeting. 

In broad terms, President Obama wrote in a letter to insurers on Monday that the administration is open to “constructive policy changes.”