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Insurers now renewing canceled health plans

President Obama announced last week that insurers can extend current plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act until the end of 2014, to fulfill his promise that if you like your plan, you can keep it.

But Patty Brown, an agent at Heart of Georgia Insurance Brokers on Riverside Drive in Macon, says months before the President's temporary solution, the eight major health insurance companies doing business in Georgia have already been offering early renewals.

They are Aetna, Assurant, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Cigna, Coventry, Golden Rule, Humana and Kaiser.

Brown says her company is guiding those who did not want to renew their current insurance, or needed a different plan, towards the federal insurance marketplace.

"Everybody, I think, is confused about the law and what it means for them," Brown said.

Eight weeks into open enrollment on healthcare.gov, Brown says her agency has yet to be able to sign up one person through the website.

Only 1,390 people statewide have successfully enrolled in a plan through healthcare.gov.

The Department of Health and Human Services says the website is working much better than it did when it opened October 1, with error rates on pages at less than one percent and vastly improved response time.

Also, a spokesman with the Obama administration said they are considering allowing people to sign up for a plan directly through insurance companies instead of having to navigate through healthcare.gov.

"That would be a game changer because nobody can actually get onto the site and apply," Brown said. "If we could do what we've always do in the past and apply through Blue Cross or Humana, it would make it infinitely easier. We could do it in 15 seconds instead of spending 2.5 hours with somebody online at healthcare.gov and still not accomplishing anything."

But Brown says the temporary extension is really just pushing the problem down the road and that people will have to face these problems again when their plans expire at the end of next year.

She says how insurance companies plan to handle the changes come 2015 is still unclear.

Georgia's insurance commissioner, Ralph Hudgens, estimates 400,000 Georgians have individual coverage that don't meet requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

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