Covered California board members said allowing older polices to continue would undermine the new insurance marketplace. Those policies will end at the end of the year because they fail to meet the higher benefit requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act.
"We want all the plans to have a level playing field, to treat them all similarly. We've done a lot of work to have a model contract that is the same across all of our plans, so plans treat consumers the same as much as possible," said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California.
The state insurance commissioner says about 1.1 million Californians are receiving notices that their current individual health insurance policies will be discontinued in 2014. For many, new policies have higher premiums and deductibles. It also goes against the president's promise when he said people who liked their current insurance policies could keep them.
"It feels like we are having a conversation about the prenup after the wedding...very, very late in the game to be talking about these sorts of things. In fact, too late," said Micah Weinberg with the Bay Area Council.
The president has since backtracked and asked states to allow insurance companies to extend those older policies.
Covered Calfiornia on Thursday released a detailed look at its enrollment numbers. It said 30,830 people enrolled in October. Of those, about 56 percent were in the 45- to 64-year-old category, 23 percent were age 18 to 34, the desirable demographic that insurers need to make the policies financially viable.
Board members said they need to transition people into the new plans sooner rather than later.
"If I thought for a minute delaying it we could actually solve some of the problems, I would delay it. But I actually think that it's going to make it a bad situation worse," said Susan Kennedy, a Covered California board member.
Because of the confusion over cancellations, the board also extended the deadline to purchase an insurance policy for coverage to start with the new year, from Dec. 15 to Dec. 26.