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Health insurers band together for Obamacare

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was a few weeks back when a presidential executive order extended the implementation of the Affordable Care Act otherwise known as Obamacare. And the island's health insurers have since band together of how to move forward with the law.

Tax commissioner Art Illagan says following a meeting last week, it appears the island's health insurance companies are all on the same page when it comes to the implementation of Obamacare which was recently extended to October 2014. "We went over the memo sent out by HHS/CMS explaining that the extension from January 1, 2014 to October 2014 the renewals of all grandfathered plans have been moved to October 2014, so that means the insurance company can renew without following the ACA requirements of the employee health benefits," he said.

Illagan says a bulletin has since been issued to health maintenance organizations and insurers who have agreed on a uniformed enforcement of the law. He adds concern continues to plague Guam and the other territories, but the extension buys some time. "The problem if we didn't have that extension is insurance companies would have to, if they renew next year they would have to include these benefits which would mean probably a higher, most probably higher rates because Guam's treated differently from the United States," he added.

The dilemma he says is the benefits apply to Guam but the subsidies do not. As we reported, an increase in premiums could come as a result to anywhere up to 55%.

He said, "We're still looking to see how the industry itself can survive should October 14 come around, so we're going to look at the few months, the 10 months to see how we can either get subsidies or delay until we can get some subsidies or just eliminate the territories from the Obamacare."

Illagan meanwhile says he'll continue to meet with the health insurance companies and now it's just a matter of waiting to see how the U.S. plays out Obamacare - hopefully including Guam in the mix. 

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