Just over half of the individual plans currently on the market do not meet the standards to be sold next year, when many key provisions of President Obama's Affordable Care Act kick in, according to a University of Chicago study. That's because the law sets new minimums for the basic coverage every individual health care plan must provide.
"They will offer a lot more financial protection," Jon Gabel, the report's lead author, said of the individual plans that will be available next year. His team drew its conclusions from 2010 data supplied by health insurers.
Some 15 million Americans, or about 6% of non-elderly adults, currently buy coverage on the individual market. Starting this fall, they'll be able to shop for and enroll in health insurance through state-based exchanges, with coverage taking effect in January. By 2016, some 24 million people will get insurance through the exchanges, while another 12 million will continue to get individual coverage outside of them, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.
Both groups will be affected by the new Obamacare rules. Starting next year, nearly all individual plans—both in and out of the exchanges—will be required to cover an array of "essential" services, including medication, maternity and mental health care. Many plans don't currently offer those benefits.