Losing Your Insurance Plan That the President Said You Could Keep? Then the ACA is Functioning Exactly As Intended
By Ken K. Gourdin
I have written elsewhere1 that making serious inroads (at best) into the private insurance market or doing away with it entirely (at worst)2 is not merely an unforeseen, unexpected, unintended consequence of the (Un?)-Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Notwithstanding President Obama’s repeated promises to the contrary (see “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan – period,” and “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor – period”3), such fundamental alteration of the private insurance market was a huge part of the law’s raison d’etre.
In order to save face, Obama had to backtrack in a major way, as if to say, “No, see, those periods I used in my previous emphatic statements (which I repeated over, and over, and over)? They’re actually asterisks: What I actually meant was, ‘If you like your plan and if you like your doctor, you can keep them — if your plan hasn’t changed since the law passed.’”4 The reality is that if a majority of those who have lost their previous insurance and their previous providers had been allowed to keep them, not enough people would have been forced into the law’s insurance exchanges to make the law work. (Of course, the exceedingly-problematic rollout of the federal exchange has called into question whether enough people will [be able to] sign up for the law to work in any event.)
And given the hesitancy with which Obama trotted out this new explanation — the video of his delivery of this explanation reveals that he practically choked on the words even as he said them, although perhaps such hesitancy can be explained by the usually famously-polished Obama’s lack of a TelePrompTer and/or by the lack of rehearsal time — seems to indicate that even he knows that selling this Catch-22 will be even more difficult than attempting to sell his previous prevarications. Such change wasn’t simply an accident: it’s integral to the law’s success.
Obama always knew (or should have known) that insurers had two choices — either they had to change their existing plans to comply with the law (thus increasing insurance costs in most cases, since only the president and other ACA defenders live in a world in which increasing services or benefits does not result in increasing costs), or they had to discontinue offering those plans altogether. And the next lie President Obama apparently would have us believe (although that lie remained unspoken by him) is, “I had no idea insurers would simply discontinue their plans! I expected them to fall right in line, to simply change their plans as the law dictates, and continue doing business as usual! Honest!”
The problem with the “implicit lie” in the foregoing paragraph is that, just as is the case with the repeated, explicit “If you like your plan you can keep it” and “If you like your doctor you can keep him” lies, the president either knew or should have known that it wasn’t true. The very regulations written to enact the law predicted that plan loss in the individual insurance market would be “between 40 and 67 percent.”5 Nor do Obama’s repeated assurancesthat plan loss would be limited mainly to the individual insurance market hold water: Obama’s own Justice Department admitted in an October court filing that a majority of Americans covered under group plans were expected to lose their coverage by the end of this year.6
|1.||See Ken K. Gourdin (November 26, 2013) “Obama is right: ACA’s failings are all “on him,” Tooele Transcript-Bulletin A4, available on line with paid subscription at the following address, last accessed December 23, 2013: http://www.tooeleonline.com/obama-is-right-acas-failings-are-all-on-him/.|
|2.||You may want to switch these labels, depending on your perspective of which of the law’s consequences are “good” and which of those consequences are “bad.”|
|3.||(No author listed) (No date listed) “Obama: ‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan’,” Tampa Bay Times (Politifact), last accessed December 23, 2013 at the following address: http://www.politifact.com/obama-like-health-care-keep/.|
|4.||Politifact also fact-checked this seemingly-post hoc, natum ex necesitate explanation. See (No author listed) (No date listed) “Barack Obama says that what he’d said was you could keep your plan ‘if it hasn’t changed since the law passed,’” Tampa Bay Times (Politifact), last accessed December 23, 2013 at the following address: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/nov/06/barack-obama/barack-obama-says-what-hed-said-was-you-could-keep/.|
|5.||Lisa Myers and Hannah Rappleye (October 28, 2013) “Obama admin. knew millions could not keep their health insurance,” NBC News, last accessed December 23, 2013 at the following address: http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/28/21213547-obama-admin-knew-millions-could-not-keep-their-health-insurance?lite.|
|6.||Andrew C. McCarthy (November 18, 2013) “Obama’s ‘5 percent’ con job,” National Review Online, last accessed December 23, 2013 at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/364176/obamas-5-percent-con-job-andrew-c-mccarthy/page/0/1|