Health insurers have until Friday to decide on restoring policies

Health insurers have until Friday to decide on restoring policies
A roomful of people work to process applications for Cover Oregon, the states' health exchange program, in Keizer, Ore., Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. Despite grand ambitions, an early start, millions of dollars from the federal government and a tech-savvy population, Oregon's online enrollment system still isn't ready more than a month after it was supposed to go live. The state has resorted to hiring or reassigning 400 people to process insurance applications by hand. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Health insurance providers in Oregon have until Friday to decide if they will be restoring any of the policies set to be canceled because they don't measure up to the federal health care law.

Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali announced Monday that the Insurance Division will post a list of insurers offering extensions by 5 p.m. Friday on its website, http://www.insurance.oregon.gov.

Companies that choose to offer extensions have until Nov. 29 to notify policyholders.

At least one large insurer, Regence BlueCross BlueShield, has said it plans to extend policies that were slated to expire.

"Regence is working closely with state regulators to understand and assess the newly announced details and its implications for our members," the insurer said late Monday in a statement. "We remain focused on ensuring that our members have access to quality health care coverage and helping them to navigate their choices."

People covered by 145,000 individual policies and 193,000 small group plans had faced cancellation because the plans did not meet the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act.

Under intense public backlash, President Barack Obama decided last week to let people keep their old plans for up to a year even if they were below standard, and Oregon went along.

Cali urged people to consider enrolling by the end of the year in Cover Oregon, which is processing applications under the new federal health law. She noted people who choose to stick with noncompliant plans will not qualify for financial help available through Cover Oregon.

Insurance companies will have the option of extending noncompliant plans for three months or one year. Premiums stay the same.

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