Physicians Health Plan to allow small group customers to keep existing plans

Lansing-based Physicians Health Plan (PHP) announced today that it will allow small group customers to keep their existing insurance plans through 2014, even if they are not compliant with the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

PHP's decision to continue offering existing small group products comes after the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services announced last month that it will allow insurers to renew small group plans that were discontinued under the ACA because they did not include all of the 10 "essential health benefits" required by the new law.

"The bottom line is that we are offering our customers an opportunity to keep their plan if they believe it's the best fit for them," said Kevin Kaplan, Vice President of Sales and Account Management for PHP. "Although we are under no legal obligation to retain policies that would otherwise ultimately be canceled under ACA, we believe we have a responsibility to do what's best for our customers."

Providing small groups the flexibility of keeping a plan that is not compliant with the ACA will provide them with additional time to plan for the law's implementation, Kaplan said.

Originally under the ACA, all small group plans beginning in 2014, would have had to provide an "essential health benefits" package that offered general services such as maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse treatment.

However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last month that it will not enforce ACA provisions in 2014 for small group policies that were in effect on Oct. 1, 2013.

"Not all insurers have opted to continue offering plans that are not compliant with the ACA," Kaplan said. "But PHP believes that providing customer choice and flexibility is a key component of our award-winning service."