President Obama (AP photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s largest health insurer said Tuesday it is asking for rate increases of between 16 percent and 24 percent to renew policies that would have been canceled for failing to meet Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) coverage requirements.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said it filed the necessary documents with the state Insurance Department that could allow customers who buy their own policies to keep their current coverage next year.

The policies were being cancelled because they didn’t include coverage for pre-existing conditions, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and seven other basic benefits.

President Barack Obama said Thursday he will let state regulators give insurers the option of keeping individual and small-group policies that are out of compliance with PPACA standards in place next year.

Twenty-one companies operating in North Carolina terminated 183,821 individual and group health insurance policies affecting 473,724 people by late October, according to figures collected by North Carolina’s Insurance Department

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said last week that his agency will quickly review extension-related requests. North Carolina Blue said it expects to mail revised renewal notices to eligible customers by Dec. 1.

“By taking this action, we are giving approximately 230,000 customers an additional option to consider as they weigh their health insurance choices for 2014,” North Carolina Blue Chief Executive Brad Wilson said in a statement.

“These are high-quality health plans that have provided great value and peace of mind for our customers,” Wilson said. “We believe many of them will welcome the opportunity to renew these plans for another year.”

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