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This could be some money saving good news for Wisconsin residents who have or would have received nonrenewal notices from their health insurance company.   On November 21, 2013 Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance issued a bulletin to the state’s health insurance companies-

Consistent with state requirements and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance’s (OCI) enforcement power of state and federal law, OCI will allow carriers to renew at their option non-ACA compliant individual and small group coverage that was in effect on October 1, 2013, for a policy year starting between January 1, 2014, and October 1, 2014.

It is important to note that coverage must have been in force on October 1, 2013, and that this OCI guidance does not apply to “newly obtained coverage.” “Newly obtained coverage” does NOT include normal enrollment changes (i.e., adding dependents or new employees) nor does it include coverage that has merely received a price change before OR after October 1, 2013. Consistent with Wisconsin Statutes related to plan changes, the small business or individual may change their plan options from one non-ACA compliant plan to another and renew that coverage in 2014 provided:

  1. Coverage was in force for the individual or small employer before October 1, 2013; and
  2. The new plan was available for purchase prior to October 1, 2013.

Carriers opting to renew non-ACA compliant plans must provide disclosure to their enrollees including notice that an enrollee’s premium may be affected either on the date of renewal or the date on which the premium will be affected. Since the letter was sent too late for some carriers to comply with notice provisions under Wisconsin law, the 60-day notice provision under s. 631.36 (5), Wis. Stat., will not be enforced for affected products from the date of this bulletin until March 1, 2014.

Many Wisconsin carriers have already offered their enrollees an early renewal option. OCI will continue to allow carriers to offer an early renewal for non-ACA compliant individual and small group coverage in 2014. As required under state law, renewals must be treated uniformly and without regard to health status.

For carriers that are transitioning individuals from an existing plan to a new plan, it is the position of OCI that nothing in the Wisconsin Statutes or regulations prohibits carriers from offering their enrollees auto-enrollment into a similar new plan. Auto-enrollment allows for minimal disruption to consumers as a result of changes required by the ACA. In communicating with enrollees regarding plan change options and auto-enrollment, insurers must inform them of their guaranteed issue right to choose any plan. While consumers have the right to choose any plan, the auto-enrollment feature helps ensure they are provided with the right to guaranteed renewable coverage afforded under Wisconsin law.

The above is an excerpt from the November 21st OCI bulletin.

Tim Barton, ChFC

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