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Plan canceled? Don’t mind the mandate

By Crissinda Ponder ·
Friday, December 20, 2013
Posted: 11 am ET

Americans whose health insurance plans were canceled this year will be granted temporary relief from the Obamacare "individual mandate," the administration announced Thursday night. The mandate requires most Americans to carry health insurance in 2014 or pay a fine.

The announcement comes after some people, while shopping on the Obamacare exchanges, found that the coverage options available to them were significantly more expensive than their canceled plans.

"Even though the Affordable Care Act will offer more coverage choices and protections for millions of Americans, we are committed to ensuring the smoothest transition possible for those who need to find a new health plan," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a letter to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. He had written to Sebelius asking about the options available to constituents with canceled health plans.

How to get the exemption

To qualify for a "hardship exemption" from the insurance requirement, you must indicate that your policy was canceled and that you believe the plans on the exchanges are not affordable. You also must fill out a hardship exemption form, according to Then, your options would be to either enroll in a lower-cost and substandard catastrophic health plan, or simply disregard the individual mandate penalty.

In her letter, Sebelius also points out that the catastrophic health plans, which are typically reserved for Americans younger than 30, are 20 percent lower -- on average -- than other plans on the exchanges.

More head-shaking from insurers

Insurers aren't pleased with this latest in a series of changes in the Obamacare rules.

This new exemption "could cause significant instability in (the) marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers," Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, says in a statement.

Nearly half of the cases HHS has received regarding canceled plans have been resolved and another third are in progress, Sebelius says.

What are your thoughts on the latest tweaks to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act?

Follow me on Twitter @CrissiPonder.

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December 26, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I finally got thru to Covered California - they don't know anything about it! There is no "catastrophic" option online either. What is going on???

December 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm

We were lied to.

December 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm

We were lied to.

December 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm

We were lied to.

Lesa Smith
December 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm

have insurance, still can not afford medical, each person on our plan has a 4000.00 out of pocket

J Kinberg
December 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm

This news is a little late coming. To be covered on January 1, 2014, I was told I had to choose a new policy by Dec. 16, 2013, which I have done. Yes, this new "metal" plan is at least $150 more a month than what I had paid. And I had to go for the bronze plan as about all I could afford. So now that I've already paid my premium for January, get this news. Little late in coming.