Fact Check: If you liked your health plan, you can keep your health plan
October 31st, 2013
12:43 PM ET
11 months ago

Fact Check: If you liked your health plan, you can keep your health plan

He said it over and over again.

Like this time:
“So let me begin be saying this to you and to the American people: I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage. They like their plan and, most importantly, they value their relationship with their doctor. …And that means that no matter how we reform health care, 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 you healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away from you, no matter what.” … President Obama at the annual conference of the American Medical Association, June 15, 2009.

Now that the president has addressed the criticism that millions of Americans are seeing their individual insurance policies cancelled because of Obamacare, let’s take a look at whether he is guilty of misleading the American people as he sold the country on his signature health care plan.

The facts

This is an issue that, for the most part, affects a small segment of the country. According to experts, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, about 95% of legal residents receive their health insurance through group plans offered by their employers, the federal government in the form of Medicare and Medicaid or get direct health care via the Veterans Administration. For the overwhelming majority of people covered by these plans, there probably will be no change. Despite some anecdotal accounts involving companies such as Home Depot, Trader Joe’s and UPS, there has been no evidence of large scale cancellation of employers provided health insurance. Still, the small amount of anecdotal evidence raises questions about Obama’s all-encompassing promise.

Most of the impact of this dubious promise would fall on the individual market; an undisciplined collection of good and crappy plans. Actually it would be better described as filled with plans that were often good for people at certain times – generally when they are healthy – and awful for people when they get sick or injured. Obamacare’s vow was to bring order – and protection – to that market by requiring, among other things, that all new plans cover a minimum of conditions such as maternity care and mental health issues. “One of the things health reform was designed to do was to help not only the uninsured, but also the underinsured,” Obama said in a speech in Boston on Wednesday. “And there are a number of Americans, fewer than 5 percent of Americans, who’ve got cut-rate plans that don’t offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident.”

From the start, these were contradictory promises; reform the individual market, but let people keep their individual plans, even if they were cut rate and inadequate. Obamacare sought to straddle this divide by proposing that people could keep any plan they had at the time on the law’s enactment on March 23, 2010, even if the plan was cut rate and lousy. But if the insurance company made any changes on things like co-pays, deductibles and coverage rates, those policies would no longer be grandfathered in and the policy holder would have to get new, sometimes more expensive, insurance.

The catch was the Administration knew that many of these policies would be changed by the insurance carriers. In 2010 HHS estimated that 40% to 67% of individual plans would lose their grandfather status.

And yet, despite this estimate Obama kept repeating his mantra that if you liked your plan, you can keep it, leading many, including the Washington Post Fact Checker to conclude that, at best, the president was being disingenuous, and, at worst, deceitful.

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. vic , nashville ,tn

    Don’t forget the past how insurance companies treated Americans. Till we get sick our insurance was good after we got sick (accident or serious illness) we learned our insurance doesn’t cover.

    Now we can buy good and quality health insurance

    October 31, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. tom l

    I liked my healthcare plan and was not able to keep it. We have gone from a PPO to lower premium, higher deductible plan with an HSA. Big fat lie. One of the biggest ever no matter how much Rudy and Sniffit try and nuance it. We know what he meant. He meant that this law will not affect anyone that has insurance, it's only going to help those that don't have insurance to get it. You know it. I know it. The American people now know it.

    And Rudy, I was born in 1969. I worked for 10 years in banking (and definitely know more about how the economy works than you do as I had my series 7 license up until I changed industries) and for the past 12 years have been in marketing and sales. I know it's become easier and easier for all of you on the left to make more ridiculous statements as you finally feel the pressure of having to defend a president who is as inept as Obama, but why throw out statements that you have absolutely no knowledge of. The fact that you have said on several occassions that I'm a few years out of high school, with zero knowledge nor proof, demonstrates your willingness to say ANYTHING to try to win the argument.

    Here's some news for all of you: you're finally starting to lose the argument as the facts of the ACA are finally coming to light. The anger has heightened on your side noticeably as you get more frustrated and have to defend this. The fact that you try to defend him as if IYLYPYCKI isn't a lie is amazing to me.

    October 31, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    ACA is a Law. Period.

    October 31, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. smith

    Fact check-Obama lied. Not a surprise, he`s a politician and they all lie. Until independents and moderates stand up to the crazies on the left and right nothing will change.

    October 31, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "But what happens when the employer mandate goes into effect next year? Will then the rest of us get this kind of surprise.
    ---
    Yes. BOHICA."

    If that was the case, they wouldn't have asked for and demanded the extension. The VAST majority of employers intend to comply with the ACA, not just throw up their hands and stop providing health insurance benefits, so you can stop your lying. The extension was to provide them with time to set up the organizational structures necessary for compliance and getting paperwork done, etc., and to allow them time to negotiate their plan offerings with insurers and make sure the plans they offer comply with the ACA's baseline requirements. Were they intending to just stop providing it, they'd have needed no extension.

    Will some employees have slight changes to their plans, generally in the direction of making them more comprehensive? Yep. Is it the end of the world and a horribly unfair injustice being visited upon them? NOPE. Does Obama overstating his case change the manner in which the ACA actually functions and turn that slight change into a horribly unfair injustice being visited upon people? NOPE. Should he have spoken less vaguely and been more specific instead of using soaring rhetoric? Sure....there there...would you like a tissue?

    October 31, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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