Faced with growing concern from Congressional Democrats over his broken promise about “keeping your insurance plan if you like it,” President Obama today unveiled his own administrative solution.

He will let insurance companies renew plans for their current costumers for an additional year even if the plans don’t meet the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act. If an insurance company wants to renew these plan they will need to tell their costumers why they don’t meet the new standards and inform customers they might qualify for subsidies on the new exchanges.

This is more restrictive than the Fred Upton (R-MI) bill which would allow companies to sell these old plans to anyone for just one more year and the Mary Landrieu (D-LA) bill which would allow companies to extend existing plans only for current consumers indefinitely.

This might have made a bigger difference if it was announced a year ago but at this late date it seems unlikely this administrative change will have a big policy impact. Insurance companies have spent months preparing for the  switch-over. They have already cancelled and started dismantling their old plans. I suspect many insurance companies will consider rushing to change gears just for another year not worth the hassle.

This appears to be more a political move to save face than anything else. It won’t even allow people to “keep their insurance” since it would only allow people to keep them for another year.

It is still possible Democrats in Congress will move forward with their own legislative fix.

Photo by Thomas Hawk under Creative Commons license