Some Californians Being Dropped by Health Insurance Companies

Half a million Californians with catastrophic plans are losing their insurance plans because they don't comply with the Affordable Care Act

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Some Californians may soon be dropped by their health insurance as companies like Aetna and Health Net no longer offer individuals plans or have joined Covered California and no longer offer all of their pre-existing plans. Whit Johnson reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2013.

    While the Affordable Care Act could provide health insurance for millions of Californians, some are being dropped from their current plans -- and when they try to sign up for new ones, they're learning the cost may be significantly higher. 

    This is happening to thousands of Californians who have individual policies because some of the current plans with low benefits and high deductibles won't be allowed under the new law.  It technically means more complete health insurance, but many say they cannot afford it.

    Cindy Georghiou owns Jaqua Bath and Body, a small beauty products business in Oxnard.  She had health insurance and never thought Obamacare would apply to her, until she received a letter.

    "All it basically said is as of January first we’ll no longer cover you," Georghiou said.

    Aetna announced over the summer it was dropping 50,000 Californians, she said. The company is no longer offering individual policies after opting-out of Covered California, the state’s new insurance marketplace.

    "So then I was just mad altogether. Then I went on the healthcare exchange and looked and those prices were higher,” Georghiou said.

    The same for actor Paul Divito:  "Affordable for whom? It’s basically squeezing us right out of the middle class."

    His insurer, Healthnet, also dropped thousands because it was joining Covered California, and his plan won't be available.

    Divito's monthly premium was $188 a month, with a $7,000 deductible for him and his wife. 

    Under Covered California, the lowest premium for him would be $335, but his deductible would be lower by $2,000. Gerald Kominski, Director of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said that the law has essentially increased the requirements that insurers provide more.

    "So the best estimate that we have is that a half million people who are currently insured might be paying more premiums or higher premiums next year because the policies that they have today, those lower cost high deductible skinny benefit policies are not going to be allowed next year on the marketplace," Kominski said.

    Georghiou makes roughly $60,000 a year -- too much to qualify for subsidies, but not enough to feel comfortable paying more. 

    “I just believe that there should be more options,” she said.

    Georghiou and Divito are not sure what they'll do next, but by next year everyone has to have health insurance or pay a penalty -- $95 per year, or 1 percent of your family income. 

    The success of Covered California hinges on whether or not people sign up.