So did the Obama administration let potentially millions of Americans buy the same kind of “junk” insurance policies that were being canceled because they didn’t meet new requirements of the health law? Not exactly.
In late December the White House said that anyone who had their plan canceled could, if they wished, get a “hardship exemption” from the individual mandate and purchase a catastrophic health plan (if such plans are available in their region).
These plans are far from generous. They aren’t designed to be. But they do have certain basic consumer protections that may meet the needs of some families. A big surge of individuals or families taking up this option could, however, hurt the overall exchanges if lots of healthy people take them. People covered under these plans could “count” toward the goal of getting 7 million Americans covered by the end of March 2014. But they don’t count as part of the exchange risk pools. They are apart. And the insurers fear that they will siphon off some of the healthier people that they need in the pool to keep costs sustainable. Continue reading