58,000 Californians to lose current insurance under Obamacare

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The nation’s largest health insurance company has decided to stop covering individuals in the nation’s largest state.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. said that it will not participate in California’s individual health insurance market beginning Jan. 1, 2014, when Obamacare regulations will take effect, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Last month,  insurance giant Aetna also announced that it will no longer cover individual Californians. Together, the companies’ decision to stop providing individual coverage will affect 58,000 existing customers in California.

The move is a result of new Affordable Care Act requirements for insurance companies to accept all applicants for individual coverage, including those with preexisting conditions. The law also requires insurers provide a bevy of new benefits for their customers.

Problems with implementing the health care law have plagued the Obama administration, despite the president’s oft-repeated assurance that “if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.”

UnitedHealth’s announcement last month that it will participate in only twelve state exchanges beginning in January has sparked concerns about whether the insurance markets will be competitive enough for the health care law to work. Both companies will continue to offer health insurance in California through employers, but this may not be a relief to everyone.

Employer insurance coverage has been a sticky issue during the planning stages of Obamacare. The health care law includes an employer mandate that requires companies with 50 or more full time employees to provide health insurance or to pay a penalty — but defines “full-time” as 30 hours per week. Many companies have introduced plans to reduce employees’ maximum hours to 29 per week in response.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the Obama administration is delaying enforcement of the employer mandate until 2015.

On Monday, House Republicans introduced the Save American Workers Act — a bill that would repeal the health care act’s redefinition of a full-time work week, instead applying the employer mandate to employees that work 40 hours per week.

Indiana Republican Rep. Todd Young, who introduced the bill, made the case that “Americans are seeing their hours cut and their paychecks reduced as a result of the employer mandate.”

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