AP NEWS
Click to copy
Click to copy

Insurer offering ACA plans in Nebraska says court ruling won’t affect coverage in 2019

December 18, 2018

Nebraskans who’ve just signed up for health insurance for 2019 under the Affordable Care Act will have coverage come Jan. 1, officials with the lone insurer offering plans in the state said Monday.

A federal judge in Texas ruled late Friday that the ACA is unconstitutional. Coming at the close of the open enrollment period for coverage, the ruling has prompted a spate of opinions about whether it ultimately will stand or fall.

There’s also been discussion of what either fate will mean for the 20 million Americans covered under the law as well as those covered by employers, Medicare and Medicaid.

But for now, coverage under the law sometimes known as Obamacare remains in place.

“The ruling has no impact on our plans for 2019, and it will not affect anyone’s coverage next year,” officials with Minnesota-based Medica said in a statement. “We will keep an eye on the case as it works its way through the court system.”

Federal officials also have sought to provide reassurance. A red banner on the federally run healthcare.gov website reads, “Court’s decision does not affect this season’s open enrollment.”

The federal Health and Human Services Department posted a statement Monday saying that the agency “will continue administering and enforcing all aspects of the ACA as it had before the court issued its decision.”

As of Dec. 2, Medica had enrolled 86,000 people in Nebraska and 42,000 in Iowa for coverage beginning Jan. 1. Most were renewals.

Traditionally, the final weeks of open enrollment bring a surge in sign-ups. Federal officials early last week reported their highest volumes of the open enrollment period. Final enrollment numbers were not immediately available.

The ruling comes at a time of some added stability in the market. Medica began offering a new health plan in Douglas and Sarpy Counties in Nebraska and in Pottawattamie and Mills Counties in Iowa for 2019 in partnership with Methodist Health System and Nebraska Medicine. It also offers a statewide plan in Nebraska and another affiliated with CHI Health in southeast and central Nebraska and western Iowa.

Nebraska and Iowa residents who rely on the exchanges for coverage are set to see single-digit increases or slightly lower premiums in 2019, seen as a sign of a sign of stability in health plans after four years of double-digit increases.

More than 80 percent of people buying coverage through the federal health exchanges are expected to receive subsidies to help them cover the costs.

The lawsuit was initiated by Texas’ attorney general with support from 19 states, including Nebraska. It argues that Congress’ elimination of a penalty for people who don’t purchase health insurance — known as the individual mandate — rendered the rest of the law unconstitutional.

This report contains material from the Washington Post.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.