Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The President's spokesperson today tried to explain why the President's statement--"If you like your health plan, you can keep it."--was true.

Listen from minute 3:00.

"As the law says, and as the President made clear . . . if you had insurance coverage on the individual market when the Affordable Care Act was passed into law and you liked that plan and you wanted to stay on it . . . you can keep that coverage. You are grandfathered in . . . in perpetuity."

Here in Massachusetts, I am not allowed to keep the individual plan I have had. I am required to buy a new plan effective March 2014. And, as I have discussed in my two previous posts, that new plan is not the same. I guess the fine point is that I bought my plan after March 2010, when the health care law was enacted.

Maybe this is all a distinction that doesn't make a difference. After all, I like some changes in the plan and don't like some others. But the answer given today doesn't square with many people's perception of the President's promise. As indicated in press reports, like this one from the Los Angeles Times, others of us who are in the 5% covered by individual plans are similarly confused.

For example, quoting the reporter's question, "Can you explain in just really plain and clear terms" how the spokesperson's comments jibe with this report:

Nearly 2 million Californians have individual insurance, and several hundred thousand of them are losing their health plans in a matter of weeks.

Blue Shield of California sent termination letters to 119,000 customers last month whose plans don't meet the new federal requirements. About two-thirds of those people will experience a rate increase from switching to a new health plan, according to the company.

I have been listening to actuaries for many months who made it clear that the new plans would have to be more expensive to cover the law's guaranteed issue and other insurance requirements. Those requirements are extremely desirable in providing insurability and financial security to millions of Americans and are, in fact, key attributes of the ACA. If the costs and benefits of these requirements had been addressed honestly by the administration, perhaps it would not feel the need to parse the President's promise as finely as his spokesperson did today.


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