Americans thinking about buying health insurance on their own later this year, or maybe switching to a different insurer, are probably out of luck. The policies are going off the market as a little-noticed consequence of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
With limited exceptions, insurance companies have stopped selling until next year the sorts of individual plans that used to be available year-round. That locks out many of the young and healthy as well as the sick and injured, even those who can afford to buy without government subsidies.
“Now they’re stuck,” said Bonnie Milani, an independent insurance broker in Los Angeles, who says she warned her customers last year that the change was coming. “It just closes everything down.”
The next wide-open chance to sign up comes in November, when enrollment for 2015 begins in the government-run insurance marketplaces created by the health care law. Companies are following that schedule even for the plans they sell outside the federal and state exchanges.
The health care law allows insurers to keep selling all year. But it also creates the conditions prompting them to stop.
The law, which requires nearly all Americans to be insured or pay a fine, bans insurers from rejecting customers because of poor health. The companies say that makes it too risky to sell to individuals year-round.