(UPDATE) Florida Blue, the newly adopted brand for the former Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, is canceling 80 percent of its current individual policies because they don't jibe with the requirements under the Affordable Care Act that go into effect Jan. 1. The number affected is estimated to be 300,000.
The health law requires that as of Jan. 1, all policies cover "essential health benefits" that include: doctor visits, emergency and hospital services, maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance abuse treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitation and devices that the therapy requires; prevention; chronic disease management; laboratory work; and pediatric services (including oral and vision care).
Affected customers are being notified by mail, said Florida Blue spokesman Mark Wright. "We will provide our members recommendations for new plan options."
The cancelation phenomenon is hitting individual policyholders all across the country, and some who had minimal coverage are angry that they're being forced to buy plans that offer more coverage than they think they need, according to Kaiser Health News. Most of the policies being canceled were sold after the Affordable Care Act was signed in 2010, so the companies knew they would be temporary. But apparently many customers did not know.
As for whether premiums will be higher or lower, Wright said it's impossible to say, since subsidies will be available to many if not most enrollees. The amount an individual will pay varies by age, geography, family size, income and smoking status.