Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 12, 2013

W.Va. putting end to state-run insurance pool

Associated Press

MARTINSBURG — West Virginia is ending a state-run high-risk insurance pool for people who can’t obtain coverage elsewhere because it is no longer needed under the federal health care reform law, Insurance Commissioner Mike Riley said.

The Legislature created AccessWV in 2005 for people with pre-existing conditions. Riley told The Journal that individuals with pre-existing conditions are guaranteed coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

AccessWV has about 1,200 policies, and policyholders are being notified that the program is ending, he said.

Ken Rozick, who owns an insurance agency in Charles Town, is one of the policyholders who received a notification that AccessWV coverage would end on Dec. 31. He purchased AccessWV coverage for himself and his son.

“I was happy with it and would have continued with it, but now that’s not possible due to Obamacare’s shutting down AccessWV,” Rozich told the newspaper.

He said he will wait before making a decision about obtaining new health insurance because of uncertainty among federal policymakers about the new law.

“Who knows what will happen? Maybe they will put the whole Obamacare on hold, because the whole system hasn’t been working right since it was rolled out and the website has had all these problems,” Rozich said.

He said he is not yet “ready to panic” about possibly not having health insurance for a while, but he is concerned about others.

“I do think to a regular consumer, who doesn’t know how insurance works, this would be very upsetting and it’s a shame people are having to go through this,” he said. “I also wonder how they will handle this in Charleston and how many people will lose their jobs because of this shutdown.”

Riley said that a contractor operates AccessWV and no state employees will lose their jobs.

“It was a good program that definitely served a need, but now with the Affordable Care Act, it is no longer needed because individuals are guaranteed coverage by statute despite pre-existing conditions,” Riley said.

He said his office is continuing to monitor what’s happening in Washington, D.C., and will make adjustments as needed.