If you’re a Democratic president, the ultimate media darling, and your friends at NBC News start calling you a liar, you have a problem.
Everyone has known that President Obama’s claim, repeated ad nauseam, that: “if like your health insurance plan, you can keep it. No one is going to take it away” was untrue. Everyone knows that his other claim: “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” was also untrue.
We did not know, to a certainty, that when Obama made these claims he knew that they were untrue. If it did, they were lies.
Megan Kelly reported last night on an IRS directive from 2010 that stated clearly what was to come to pass: Obamacare would cause people to lose their insurance.
One expects that Fox News will report in a fair and balanced way, with a slight skew against the president.
One expects that NBC will skew in favor of the president. For that reason Lisa Myers’ story is more noteworthy.
By Myers’ reporting the promise that you can keep your insurance if your insurance if you like it was a lie. So was the promise that the new policies will be better and cheaper than the old ones.
President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.
Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”
None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying 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.
Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”
That means the administration knew 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.
Yet President Obama, who had promised in 2009, “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan,” was still saying in 2012, “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”
“This says that when they made the promise, 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,” said Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms. Laszewski estimates that 80 percent of those in the individual market will not be able to keep their current policies and will have to buy insurance that meets requirements of the new law, which generally requires a richer package of benefits than most policies today.
It used to be called bait-and-switch. The administration is now trying to tell America that the president did not really lie. His definitive and unambiguous statement needs to be read for the nuance.
Obamacare will allow you to keep your insurance … unless any part of it has changed since last year. Then the Department of Health and Human Services wrote new regulations that forced insurance companies to change their policies.
The net effect was: if you have an individual policy, you, and millions of others, are going to lose it. You will be forced to buy what will very likely be a more expensive, and more comprehensive policy that includes all the coverage that the government believes you should have. So much for free to choose. You yourself will have no choice in the kind of coverage you will have.
Since some people will not be able to afford the new policies, even with government subsidies, they will fall into the ranks of the uninsured.
NBC reports on how the law is impacting individuals:
Those getting the cancellation letters are often shocked and unhappy.
George Schwab, 62, of North Carolina, said he was "perfectly happy" with his plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield, which also insured his wife for a $228 monthly premium. But this past September, he was surprised to receive a letter saying his policy was no longer available. The "comparable" plan the insurance company offered him carried a $1,208 monthly premium and a $5,500 deductible.
And the best option he’s found on the exchange so far offered a 415 percent jump in premium, to $948 a month.
"The deductible is less," he said, "But the plan doesn't meet my needs. Its unaffordable."
"I'm sitting here looking at this, thinking we ought to just pay the fine and just get insurance when we're sick," Schwab added. "Everybody's worried about whether the website works or not, but that's fixable. That's just the tip of the iceberg. This stuff isn't fixable."
Health care consultant Robert Laszewski, quoted above, found out that he was right the hard way:
For months, Laszewski has warned that some consumers will face sticker shock. He recently got his own notice that he and his wife cannot keep their current policy, which he described as one of the best, so-called "Cadillac" plans offered for 2013. Now, he said, the best comparable plan he found for 2014 has a smaller doctor network, larger out-of-pocket costs, and a 66 percent premium increase.
Some might say that the Obamacare calamity is so widely known that the media had no choice but to cover it fairly. Perhaps it’s true, but good work is good work and credit should be given where it is due.