RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - Nearly a quarter million Virginians will have to change their insurance plans this fall. That's because many of them did not follow new Affordable Care Act rules. Now, some companies and individuals will need to choose new policies.

The problem stems from the line that people kept hearing before the Affordable Care Act was put in place that says: 'if you like your plan, you can keep it.' It turns out that's not true for thousands of Virginia companies and individuals.

Wednesday, Virginia lawmakers on the Health Insurance Reform Commission met for the first time this year to discuss the number of Virginians that will need new plans this fall. 

"Cancellation is a word that's used all the time, but really what's happened is the law has changed. We're not allowed to offer those plans anymore. So what we're saying to them is, you need to move to one that's compliant with the law because that's what we can offer,” said Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans.

Some employers and individuals have already received notices saying their plans will end. Those yet to receive the notification letters will be offered the most similar alternative for a plan or they can shop around inside or outside the federal exchange.

Gray sees there's a silver lining in the long run. "I think there'll be a stabilization of rates as the population moves to ACA plans. As you get more people in the pool to share the cost, things will start to even out a little bit,” he said.

The Health Insurance Reform Commission is scheduled to meet again in November. That meeting coincides with the timeframe when most people will have their open enrollment periods.

Lawmakers believe as Virginians shop for options inside and outside the healthcare exchange, we'll have more understanding of these impacts.

Commonwealth of Virginia House of Delegates Press Release

Richmond, Virginia, 10 September 2014: While thousands of Virginians have already received health insurance cancellation notices related to the Affordable Care Act, hundreds of thousands more will likely receive similar news between now and the end of the year.

The members of the Virginia Health Insurance Reform Commission received the news concerning additional cancellations during its meeting Wednesday at the General Assembly building.

"The Committee heard testimony at today's meeting that around 250,000 more Virginians will receive notices this year that their health plans are not compliant with the Affordable Care Act and will be cancelled as a result," said Delegate Kathy J. Byron (R- Bedford), Commission Chairman. "These are in addition to those Virginians who have already received cancellation notices."

The consumers facing cancellation will have the option of purchasing new plans, but those plans will on the whole have higher premiums and much higher deductibles.— a frank repudiation of the often repeated promise that "If you like your plan, you can keep Families who find a way to pay for the increase in their premiums may not be able to fully utilize their insurance because of larger out-of-pocket payments required for services.

"That puts families who are already watching every penny in an impossible position," Delegate Byron noted. "Plans that have high out-of-pocket expenses often have so-called 'narrow networks' that can leave a trusted family physician, specialist, or hospital facility out of the network.

"What we're hearing over and over again from constituents is shock — shock that their premiums are increasing, shock that they'll be paying much more out of pocket, and shock that the promise they could keep their plan turned out to be false.

"I am deeply concerned that, at a time when families are already struggling to make ends meet, another 250,000 policy holders will have to trim their budgets back even further. Virginia's tax collections are already falling short of projections. Making hundreds of thousands of more Virginians scrimp to pay for unaffordable health insurance is unlikely to help the situation.

"This law is causing untold heartache and genuine hardships for thousands of Virginians. It is becoming increasingly clear that the best option would be to repeal this poorly crafted law and start over."

The Virginia Health Insurance Reform Commission was established in 2013 by the General Assembly to monitor the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and determine whether Virginia should establish a state-run health benefit exchange, and develop recommendations to increase access to health insurance coverage, ensure that the costs of health insurance coverage are reasonable, and encourage a robust market for health insurance products.

Committees of the General Assembly are directed to request the Commission to assess the impact and efficacy of legislation proposing a mandated health insurance benefit or provider.

Delegate Kathy J. Byron has represented the 22nd District in the Virginia House of Delegates since 1998. The 22nd District includes portions of Bedford, Campbell and Franklin Counties, and part of the City of Lynchburg.