Florida Blue's decision to cancel about 300,000 individual-market policies has stirred up some customers and renewed criticism of President Obama's claim that those who like their insurance policies can keep them.
What Obama didn't say as much: The decision was largely up to the insurance companies.
Under Obamacare, companies were allowed to grandfather some existing health plans, even if they didn't comply with Affordable Care Act rules.
Insurance companies took advantage of the option by grandfathering plans that were profitable for the insurers and popular with the insured. Many plans, though, didn't fit this definition. In Florida Blue's case, about 80 percent of its individual plans were folded, and customers have been notified since August, angering some.
UPDATE: More than a day after being contacted, Florida Blue responded with a written statement (posted separately this morning) saying in many customers will be "migrating" to new plans:
"Florida Blue is proactively communicating to these members to help them understand how this transition affects them. Prior to their 2014 renewal date, each member will receive a letter that instructs them to contact Florida Blue to review their migration options. These new plans will offer members access to more comprehensive benefits in 2014."
Some companies may be “doing this as an opportunity to push their populations into the exchange and purge their systems” of policyholders they no longer want, Jerry Flanagan, an attorney with the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog in California, told Kaiser Health News.
Chances are, conservatives will blame Obamacare for the cancellations. Liberals will blame the insurance companies and everyone else will likely make up their own minds based on their circumstances and the facts as they see them.
Still, with the Obamacare website fiasco occupying the Administration, news of the cancellation notices comes at the worst of times for the president's signature health program. It also underscores how much of Obamacare's fate is in the hands of insurance companies.