Meredith Cohn: Some forced to buy on health insurance exchanges for the first time

The Baltimore Sun, January 5, 2015

The outrage was swift and loud. Millions of people were feared to be in danger of losing their health insurance last year because their plans did not comply with the Affordable Care Act.

To keep people covered and quell consumer anger, President Barack Obama and many states allowed people to renew their old plans temporarily — including 73,000 in Maryland.

But that offer has expired and now people like Raymond Liu have been thrust onto health exchanges where they must purchase new plans. Many are finding higher premiums or less coverage, as they worried would happen.

“I tried to get as comparable of a plan price and coverage wise under the Affordable Care Act,” said Liu, a self-employed Fulton resident, “but it was not possible.”

Obama created the controversy when selling the reform law to consumers by repeatedly promising they could keep their health insurance plans if they liked them. Protests swelled when analysts predicted as many as 5 million people had policies that wouldn’t comply with the new health care law.

While some are complaining a year later, after the short-term fix has run out, supporters of the new law contend the problem wasn’t as widespread as once believed, and they insist the exchanges offer most people a good deal.

“With change like this, there are winners and losers,” said Sabrina Corlette, senior research fellowand project director at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.