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Horizon decides it will not renew 2013 policies

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    Horizon won't renew any 2013 small group or individual health plans.
    Horizon won't renew any 2013 small group or individual health plans.

    Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the state's largest insurer, announced Tuesday it won't renew any 2013 small group or individual health plans after Dec. 31.

    President Obama last month said he would allow insurers to renew plans for 2014 — even if they didn't comply with the Affordable Care Act.

    Obama's suggestion came after consumers nationwide complained as their health plans were cancelled by insurers despite his promise that consumers who liked their health plans could keep them.

    Doing so, however, was optional.

    Horizon is the largest insurer in the state's individual and small group market, covering about 500,000 people.

    Horizon Director of Public Affairs Thomas Rubino said reworking its policies in such a short period of time proved to be too difficult a task.

    "Horizon BCBSNJ has been working to implement the Affordable Care Act for the past three and a half years, and undoing our work and essentially creating new plans in three weeks has proven to be impossible," he said in a statement.

    "Horizon BCBSNJ conducted an in-depth analysis of the feasibility and impact of renewing 2013 policies. Since the federal government is requiring all 2013 policies to be modified upon renewal, our members' current plans would be significantly different and far more expensive, especially for the most popular Basic and Essential plans."

    Rubino said the company is committed to helping its customers understand the status of their policies and all of their options.

    "We have already begun and will continue notifying individual and small group customers with approaching renewal dates of what their options are for converting their old policies into new ACA-compliant policies," he said. "Individual customers may be eligible for financial assistance to purchase insurance."

    Rubino said individuals can easily obtain an estimate of the amount of financial assistance they may be eligible for by visiting HorizonBlue.com or texting "NJReady" to 222752 and answering a few questions. Customers can also call Horizon BCBSNJ at 1-800-224-1234 (option #1), visit Healthcare.gov, or contact their broker for more information.

    Correction: This story was updated to reflect the correct number of people enrolled in Horizon's individual and small group plans.


     
     

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    Beth Fitzgerald

    Beth Fitzgerald

    Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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