Insurers commit to coverage for ACA provisions ahead of high court ruling

Three major insurance companies – Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare – have pledged to continue offering coverage for certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act even though the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the law's constitutionality within the next two weeks.

The insurers said, regardless of the court's decision, they would still offer coverage of preventive services, coverage of dependents up to the age of 26, and regulations on lifetime coverage limits, rescissions and appeals.

"The protections we are voluntarily extending are good for people's health, promote broader access to quality care and contribute to help control rising healthcare costs. These provisions make sense for the people we serve, and it is important to ensure they know these provisions will continue," said Stephen J. Hemsley, president and CEO of UnitedHealth Group, in a press release.

According to information released June 11 by Humana, the continuation of coverage will apply to all of its fully insured commercial policies. In addition, the company will work with its self-insured clients “to emphasize the importance of the continuity of policies and coverage.”

"Humana believes its health plan members should have the peace of mind of knowing the company embraces and will maintain these common-sense provisions that add stability and security to healthcare coverage," the company added.

The announcements come on the heels of a new brief from The Commonwealth Fund stating that as many as 6.6 million young adults under the age of 26 have health insurance today, as a result of the provision in health reform that allows them to remain on their family’s health plan.

Yet, despite these gains, the issue brief noted that significant coverage gaps still exist for this population, with nearly 40 percent of all young adults spending time in the past year without health insurance.

Still, the three large health insurers won praise in some circles for incremental increases in coverage for this population as well as the continuation of other health reform policies.

“We applaud UnitedHealth, Humana and Aetna for their determination to not be held hostage by the political and judicial process and for their leadership in ensuring Americans have access to the healthcare they need. We encourage others to follow suit,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in a statement.

It is still not clear whether other large insurers will follow suit. The nation’s largest insurer, WellPoint, issued a statement to media outlets on June 11 that indicated it would wait until after the Supreme Court ruling before deciding.

Without commenting directly on the announcements of the three health plans, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) issued a statement yesterday on its website: “While we cannot speculate on how the Supreme Court might rule, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies remain firmly committed to providing stable coverage to our members that meets their healthcare needs. BCBSA is encouraging its 38 local Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies to offer their customers the broadest set of protections possible at an affordable price. Plans will be responsive to their members and the communities they serve.”