Warding off the specter of election-year health insurance cancellations, the Obama administration today announced a two-year extension for individual policies that don't meet requirements of the new health care law. The decision helps defuse a political problem for Democrats in tough re-election battles this fall, especially for senators who in 2010 stood with President Obama and voted to pass his health overhaul. The extension was part of a major package of regulations that sets ground rules for 2015, the second year of government-subsidized health insurance markets under Obama's law—and the first year that larger employers will face a requirement to provide coverage.
It's not clear how many people will be affected by the two-year extension on policies that were previously subject to cancellation. The administration cites a congressional estimate of 1.5 million, counting individual plans and small-business policies. "It's not likely to affect a large number of people, but it certainly avoids difficult anecdotes about people having their policies canceled," said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on insurance markets. "I think it's a small and dwindling number of people who are affected." The latest extension builds on an earlier reprieve issued by the White House. Some could renew their plans in 2016, giving them coverage into 2017, reports Politico.