Before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, President Barack Obama promised Americans they could keep their health care plans if they liked them. But already hundreds of thousands of citizens are receiving notification that their plans are being canceled because they don’t comply with the new law, and, according to NBC News, the Obama administration has known for at least three years the cancellations were coming.
While campaigning for health care reform in 2009, Obama went out of his way to make one thing perfectly clear: If you like your current health care plan, you will be able to keep it.
On June 15, 2009, Obama said this: “We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period.”
In 2012, he echoed that sentiment, saying, ““If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”
However, many are finding that not to be the case. More than 300,000 cancellation notices have been sent out in Florida, according to Kaiser Health News, and another 180,000 in California. In New Jersey, the number of cancellations tops 800,000, the Star-Ledger reports.
According to NBC News, approximately 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million Americans who buy their health insurance individually should expect to receive a cancellation letter over the next year “because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law.”
This could result in millions of Americans being forced to purchase different policies, potentially at higher premiums.
So how did the Obama administration know the cancellations would be coming?
The Affordable Care Act states that people who had health insurance prior to March 23, 2010 — the day Obama signed the bill into law — will be able to keep those policies even if they don’t meet the requirements of the new law. However, the Department of Health and Human Services tightened that provision so that “if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered,” NBC News reports.
Because the market for individual insurance experiences significant turnover, the insinuation is the Obama administration had to have known many policies “grandfathered” in would not qualify for the Affordable Care Act. NBC News reports that the administration knew in 2010 that “more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.”
“This says that when they made the promise [that individuals could keep their plans], they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” Robert Laszewski of Health Policy and Strategy Associates told NBC News.
On Monday, former Obama adviser David Axelrod said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “most people are going to keep their own plan.” When asked about Axelrod’s admission of “most” as opposed to all, White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledge that some individual’s plans will be canceled, but countered that the plans they switch to will be better and affordable.
“What the president said and what everybody said all along is that there are going to be changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act to create minimum standards of coverage,” Carney said. “… So it’s true that there are existing health care plans on the individual market that don’t meet those minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act.”
Actually, what the president said back in 2009 was “[the Affordable Care Act] is for people who aren’t happy with their current plan. If you like what you’re getting, keep it. Nobody is forcing you to shift.”
Only now, some who like their plans are being forced, including Laszewski. According to NBC News, he has a so-called “Cadillac plan” — “the best health insurance policy you can buy,” he said — but recently received notice in the mail that it was being canceled.