It is turning out that for many people, Obamacare means they cannot keep their insurance plan if they like it, and according to reports out this morning, the government has known that for years.
Back in 2009 President Obama said that despite changes called for in his healthcare initiative, people should not worry. They could keep their doctor if they wanted, and they could keep their current insurance plans if they wanted. He said it again during his re-election campaign in 2012. Now it turns out that under Obamacare, millions cannot keep either their doctor or plan, no matter what they want. And NBC News reports that the government knew this as far back as 2010.
Currently about 14 million Americans buy their health insurance from companies in the private market. NBC News quotes sources involved in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as saying that officials have known for at least three years that anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of them will lose those policies. And many of them, according to those sources, are in for substantial sticker shock. The problem is that the new health law mandates wider coverage for every plan available for sale.
When Obamacare first became law, it contained a provision stating that people with policies in effect as of March 30, 2010, could keep them, whether they met the new coverage requirements or not. However, regulations written later that year made a big change in that provision. It decided that if any significant changes – and by that they mean changes in deductibles, co-pays, etc. – were made to any protected policy, then that policy would no longer be grandfathered.
The White House yesterday acknowledged that a lot Americans would not, in fact, be able to keep the insurance plans they like, if those plans do not meet the minimum coverage requirements mandated by Obamacare.
So far, most of the media attention – and political criticism – has focused on the bumpy launch of the government website designed to let people register, shop for and purchase health care policies, and from the exchanges established by the ACA. The system has not worked as advertised since it went up October 1. This past weekend a problem at the “hub” shut it down completely. It’s back up now; but this morning, Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Federal Agency responsible for creating the website, apologized. She assured members of the House Ways and Means Committee that the Administration was committed to having everything working properly as soon as possible.
But the website may not be the biggest problem for Obamacare. News that more than 10 million Americans may lose their insurance – and the jump in prices they may face to replace it — could prove just as damaging. So are reports that the number of people trying to sign up is low. That was expected in any case, but some experts wonder whether young people, whose participation is critical, have been discouraged.
Members of Congress — mostly Republicans, but also some Democrats — are now calling for a delay in the individual mandate portion of the ACA. That is the time by which people must buy insurance or face a fine. The Administration has already pushed the deadline back by six weeks to March 31, 2014. Some in Congress would like to see a year delay. That would plop it right in the middle of an election year. Expect critics to use those extra months to argue that Obamacare should be repealed altogether.
Written by Mike Clancy