If you like your Obamacare plan, you may be automatically switched to a cheaper one

Just another "tweak" to Obamacare – this one is a doozy.

Because many Obamacare plans are seeing huge increases in price compared to last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a 324-page regulation that would automatically switch consumers to a cheaper plan.  The new plans will almost certainly offer fewer benefits and increased deductibles.

The Hill:

The Obama administration might allow states to shift ObamaCare enrollees into cheaper plans in 2016 if consumers do not take action to enroll themselves in new coverage. 

The proposal was released Friday as part of a 324-page regulation outlining how the marketplaces will operate in 2016.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said it was weighing the change because consumers tend to favor cheaper plans. 

Enrollees would be able to choose the option to be automatically enrolled in cheaper coverage when they first enter the exchange, the CMS said. 

"This alternative enrollment hierarchy could be triggered if the enrollee's current plan's premium increased from the prior year, or increased relative to the premium of other similar plans by more than a threshold amount," the regulation stated. 

"As is the case under the existing approach, a consumer would retain the option to take action to enroll in a different plan during open enrollment if he or she wished to do so." 

The potential shift in policy comes as the administration strongly encourages enrollees to comparison shop for health plans to avoid price increases in 2015. 

Most people who obtained coverage on the marketplaces last year are not expected to come back, however, and it's likely some will be surprised by cost increases. 

The idea of automatically changing consumers' coverage could trigger problems as people find themselves in plans with new benefits, cost-sharing and provider networks.

Someone who is perfectly happy with the plan he has will be induced to switch plans – almost certainly to one that offers less coverage and a higher deductible – because the premium increases have priced him out of the market.

You shouldn't have to switch your plan every year – not based on how Obamacare was sold, anyway.  Price increases were to be a thing of the past, as consumers were supposed to save more than $2,000 a year.

This particular Obamacare "tweak" will no doubt anger a lot of consumers, who are in for a rude surprise when they realize that the plan they paid for last year is no longer affordable, and the alternative will mean paying more out of pocket and receiving fewer benefits.

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