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Obama Tells Insurers Consumers Must Understand Options Under Law

President Barack Obama told executives with insurers including Cigna Corp., Humana Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield that he wants to work with them to make sure consumers understand their choices amid a rocky start for his health-care law.

“What we’re going to be doing is brainstorming on how do we make sure that everybody understands what the options are,” Obama said as he met with the executives in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

Obama invited the group to the meeting a day after he announced that the administration was altering regulations to permit insurance companies to extend existing policies for an additional year, even though they don’t meet requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Republican-led U.S. House earlier passed legislation that lets insurers sell for another year health policies that don’t meet the requirements of the law, a measure that Obama has threatened to veto if it reaches his desk.

Obama acted under pressure from both parties as cancellation notices went out to hundreds of thousands of Americans who buy their insurance on the individual market and as the federal website for selecting policies has been hobbled by technical flaws.

The White House didn’t release a list of insurance company representatives invited. Mark Bertolini, chief executive officer, Aetna Inc.; Bruce Broussard, CEO of Humana; and David Cordani, chief executive officer of Cigna, were among the executives who were confirmed for the meeting. They were joined by Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry group.

Ignagni warned yesterday that the one-year grace period for existing policies may cause premiums to rise and may not be widely available, depending on decisions of state insurance commissioners.

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