Insurance regulators allow Michigan companies to sell discontinued plans

(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Today's Health Care Navigator piece features a big decision from Michigan insurance regulators regarding the Affordable Care Act.

More than a week after the President had to alter the rules of his signature law, the Department of Insurance and Financial Services said yes.

Insurance companies in Michigan may continue to offer plans that would have been discontinued.

During his announcement last week, President Obama acknowledged that millions are losing their insurance plans, despite his assurances they wouldn't.

But the President left the final decisions to the states, and in Michigan it was not an easy one.

"A lot of research was done," said Caleb Buhs with the Department of Insurance and Financial Services. "Our staff worked some late hours to try and determine all the ramifications of this."

The state DIFS wrestled primarily with the timing.

With only a few weeks left in the year, insurance companies would have to scramble to submit all the paperwork and set policy prices.

"Ultimately it came down to consumers having a choice; there's a lot of disruptions with the federal marketplace website, consumers are not able to go on and choose a new plan, so we wanted to give them all the choices possible to ensure that they have coverage on January 1," Buhs said.

During her visit to Michigan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted the fix is only temporary.

"We just hope that on balance, people find either affordable coverage staying with their plan for an additional year and have a transition year, and that's what this really is," she said.

So when the end of 2014 comes around, health insurance customers will once again face losing those policies that do not meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

"The plans on the marketplace going forward if not this year, in 2015, will be more robust, that is a definite fact," Buhs said. "They will all contain a minimum set of requirements that were not there before."