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For the past seven years, Jasmine Lucas has had peace of mind knowing, if she got sick, she was covered.
“It has high coverage and a low deductible and a low premium,” she said of her current healthcare plan. “I mean, it’s like the best of the plans.”
She told NBC 6 she has had the same individual plan through Cigna since August 2013, after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law but before the marketplace opened.
She says she has paid her monthly premium on time, even when she was out of work in March.
“I never missed a payment,” Lucas said.
But in June, she got a letter from Cigna saying she “…will not be able to renew…” her coverage because her plan was being “discontinued.”
She says she called Cigna.
“They told me there’s nothing they can do, I just have to find another plan,” she said. “I don’t think this is right during a pandemic.”
In an email, a Cigna spokesperson told NBC 6: “Beginning January 2021, Cigna will no longer offer pre-ACA health plans as an option for renewal…” and explained that “the decision to discontinue the pre-ACA plan for 2021 was made prior to COVID-19, and was in no way impacted by the current public health crisis.”
Attorney Patrick Sullivan says it is important for consumers to realize that a health insurance policy is a contract between the consumer and the health insurer, adding “they’re generally year-to-year contracts.”
Sullivan says he has seen more insurance carriers phase out pre-ACA plans in recent years. He says premiums for these types of plans are lower because they insure a lower risk pool and may not have had to cover people with preexisting conditions.
“People who may have been healthy 10 years ago, now we’re in 2020, they may not be so healthy,” Sullivan said. “The health insurance company may look at this pool and say, ‘we might lost money on this plan, so let’s go ahead at the end of this year, let’s get rid of this plan.’”
Sullivan says a company has to give a consumer at least a 90 day-notice that the coverage is ending.
In Jasmine’s case, Cigna sent her the notice six months in advance.
Cigna told NBC 6, “The number of customers enrolled in a pre-ACA health plan has been steadily decreasing every year, and has reached a point where it’s better for those customers to find alternative ACA products for their health care needs.” The company also said it “…will continue to offer ACA-compliant plans in Florida.”
As for Jasmine, she says she is worried about not being able to find a plan she could afford with comparable coverage.
“I see plans that some have the lower deductible, but then it’s not the same amount of coverage or the premium is through the roof, out of my price range,” she said. “I’m just not finding anything similar.”
Florida’s Office for Insurance Regulation told NBC 6 Cigna notified them that they had expanded their Florida offerings on the Affordable Care Act exchange. Open enrollment starts in November and runs through December 15.
If your plan is being discontinued, you can contact an insurance agent or visit healthcare.gov during the open enrollment period to explore your options.