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North Coast policyholders hope to keep health insurance with Obamacare change

Facing a big jump in the cost of her health insurance, Ellyn Moscowitz of Jenner said she was heartened by President Barack Obama's decision Thursday, to allow some people to keep their health plans for one more year, but she worried about how it will play out.

“I think it's great,” said Moscowitz, a semi-retired attorney who was among the nearly 220,000 Californians who received cancellation notices from two of the state's largest insurers, compounded by sticker shock over the cost of a replacement policy.

“You can't leave millions of Americans like me in a bad situation,” she said.

The Blue Shield of California policy she bought two years ago cost $438 a month and covered all but $2,000 of $52,000 in charges for three days at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital last month due to a sudden illness.

A comparable plan from Anthem Blue Cross — available through the state insurance exchange, Covered California — will cost $698 a month, a 60 percent increase, and would have left her with an obligation of more than $6,000 for the same hospital treatment.

Blue Shield agreed last week to extend 115,000 policy cancellations in California by three months, from Dec. 31 to March 31, and on Thursday Obama gave insurers the option of continuing current plans through 2014.

That's where Moscowitz's enthusiasm wavered.

“I'm still nervous until I hear from Blue Shield,” she said. “Companies can allow us to keep what we have, but they don't necessarily have to.”

“I really want to keep the plan I've got,” Moscowitz said, echoing the sentiments of millions of Americans.

Mike Fitzpatrick, a Windsor general contractor, saw some political expediency in the president's action.

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