New Jersey's largest insurance company says it will move ahead with the cancellation of its bare-bones health coverage, pushing subscribers toward new plans offered on an insurance exchange.

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Most of the 90,000 people covered by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield's basic and essential plan are expected to qualify for subsidies for more comprehensive coverage available on the marketplace. The company tells The Record that premiums would have been higher if the policies were continued.

The customers are among 150,000 New Jersey residents who faced insurance coverage cancellations because their plans did not conform to requirements of President Barack Obama's health insurance overhaul.

Obama has announced that those policies could be continued if states would allow it.

Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday he would leave the decision up to insurers, who must decide whether to modify their plans and then decide what premiums to charge, and communicate that information to customers so they can make a decision before their policies are due to be renewed.

Normally, insurers are required to notify customers 60 days in advance of a change in premiums. Now, with many customers facing policy terminations on Jan. 1, that timetable is compressed. The Insurance Department said it would cooperate with insurers that choose to offer renewals to ease the transition.

Horizon said Tuesday night it was still deciding what to do about policies other than the basic and essential plan.

"Given the federal requirements to modify current products, we are assessing the impact to our members," the company said in a statement. "Our initial sense is that this decision may still provide some relief for our small-employer customers."


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