Canceled Policies, Or Better Policies?

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ABOVE VIDEO: Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010 and reassured Americans that they could keep their current health insurance plans. Now insurance companies are canceling plans that are not to the standards of Obamacare. CBS’ Norah O’Donnell reports.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Confused about the whole “if you like your plan, you can keep it” controversy around the ACA?  To understand what is evolving with the progressive roll out of the many complex provisions of the ACA it’s imperative to keep an open mind, seek information from reliable sources, but realize and take into consideration that almost everyone sharing their knowledge does so from a personal perspective on this incredibly controversial law.  

A comprehensive, factual Q & A on why insurers cancel policies and what you can do when it happens was posted on earlier this week.

In the article excerpted below, the American College of Physicians’ Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs and Public Policy, Bob Doherty, addresses the President’s specious guarantee and explains why it was misleading for the Obama administration to say that. However, clearly an advocate of the ACA, Doherty asserts that mandated “essential policy benefits” are the lynchpin for Obamacare success and focuses on the question: “Canceled policies, or better policies?” 

ADVOCACYBLOG.ACPONLINE.ORG — First, critics of Obamacare cited the troubled launch of the  Obamacare enrollment site to make the case that the law is a “train wreck.” 

Now, they are citing the health insurance cancellation notices that have gone out to hundreds of thousands of policyholders.   

But these are two very different things.  The technical problems with the enrollment portal are not evidence of any inherent problem with Obamacare itself.

Quite the contrary: the subsidies to help people afford coverage, the ability for consumers to shop and compare health plans in a competitive marketplace, the bans on insurance companies excluding people with pre-existing conditions or charging them more, an end to annual and lifetime limits on coverage, and the requirement that all plans offer “essential” benefits—all of these, and more, are necessary and desirable changes created by Obamacare.

The problem with the website is that people have not yet been able to fully avail themselves of these benefits—yet.

Was the President’s guarantee “misleading” or a contrived deception?

The insurance cancellations are another thing altogether, because they are the direct result of changes mandated by Obamacare, not unintended mistakes in its execution.  But are the cancellations really evidence of Obamacare imposing “bad” policy on the American people, as the critics argue?

Let’s walk through what is happening, and why.

First, President Obama’s repeated assertion, that if you like your plan, you can keep it, is misleading.

While this is true for the vast majority of Americans who get their coverage from a large employer, or from a government program like Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA, there is a relatively small subset of the population (more on this later) that are now finding that they can’t keep the policies they purchased on the individual insurance market.

This may be a surprise to people owning those policies, but it couldn’t have been a surprise for the administration, since the law itself—and the administration’s own regulations–require people who have substandard health plans  (plans that do not comply with federal benefits  requirements) to switch to plans that meet federal standards.  It also wasn’t a surprise to me, and others who really understand how the Affordable Care Act is supposed to work.

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