- Cullman, Alabama

State News

November 2, 2013

STATE: In Ala., 90,000 have to find new health insurance

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — About 90,000 Alabamians will have to find new health insurance policies because their current policies don’t meet the requirements of the federal health care law.

Mark Fowler, spokesman for the state Department of Insurance, said the agency doesn’t have figures on the issue. The Associated Press compiled the 90,000 figure by contacting Alabama’s major health insurance companies.

Most of those affected are at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, which dominates the individual insurance market in Alabama. Company spokeswoman Koko Mackin said 87,000 Alabama customers, or 4 percent of the company’s total, have been notified that their individual health plans will no longer be available after Dec. 31 because they do not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act for all the types of benefits that must be included.

“To provide a smooth transition, our members are automatically enrolled in a new ACA-compliant plan comparable to their current coverage,” she said. They can stay in that plan or choose a different plan during the six-month open enrollment period provided by the law, she said.

She said the company also notified customers that they may be eligible for tax credits to help pay for their insurance under the new law.

Montgomery-based Alfa Insurance sells health insurance along with its traditional life and auto insurance coverage, but the policies are issued through Blue Cross. Spokesman Jeff Helms said Alfa has 10,874 customers who are affected and are being moved to a new plan compliant with federal law. Alfa’s numbers are included in the Blue Cross numbers.

Humana has about 3,000 customers, or about 3 percent of its Alabama customers, who have individual polices that don’t meet the new federal requirements. Company spokesman Mitch Lubitz said Human will be notifying them this month about their coverage options, including keeping their current policy through the end of 2014 or choosing a new medical plant that will take effect Jan. 1.

A spokesman for United Health Care, Tyler Mason, said that in Alabama, the company focuses on the group insurance market rather than individual policies. He said that is why it is not offering any individual policies in Alabama’s federally facilitated health insurance exchange.

Blue Cross is offering individual policies in all 67 counties through the exchange. Human is offering individual policies through the exchange in Jefferson, Shelby and Madison counties — the markets where it has much of its Alabama business.

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