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. Sniffit

    Yawn. This was discussed EXTENSIVELY back when the whole thing was enacted, the relevant regulation was passed and the MSM produced a flurry of articles on the subject. The reality is this: The hearings are supposed to be about the website, but that's not a winning issue for the GOP/Teatrolls because it will eventually be fixed and then the ACA will truly be off and running and they'll have pretty much lost completely at that point. Therefore, they switched gears to this talking point, which is irrelevant to hearings that were supposed to be about the website. The MSM is all too happy to take the red meat nontroversy the GOP/Teatrolls handed them and re-litigate it on their behalf. Mmmmmmm...symbiosis.

    October 31, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. kay

    But what happens when the employer mandate goes into effect next year? Will then the rest of us get this kind of surprise. Would appreciate someone checking into it. Seems like if we'd known even a small group were being misled, we might have looked at the law a little more closely. We're feeling nervous about next year.

    October 31, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. just saying

    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.
    ---–

    anecdotal accounts??? seriously??? they are as real as the lies obama told the american people! obama and the democrats sold obamacare with a pack of lies and this was just one of the lies. how about reporting on all the other lies lsm? costs will go down, people will pay less? huge lie. everybody will have health insurance? huge lie. they now say that 30 million will still not have health and will still be going to the emergency room.

    so just what the heck was this entire fiasco about? maybe controlling our lives and wrecking our healthcare system so the government could step in a take the whole thing over and give the leftists what they have always dreamed of, taxpayer paid for, government owned and run healthcare for everybody.

    October 31, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Don WV

    Everyone pounced on Cruz after his lengthy speech, ridiculing him, calling him names......................but somehow everything he said in his speech is coming true! Calling the Tea Party terrorist was one of the worst things I have heard! Now we are coming to know of all the crooked back room deals they had to do to get it past. Deals with Big Pharma, eliminating a lot of discounts for health facilities, and their workers. And now a deal with insurance companies to cancel lower costing plans, and pushing people into high cost, high deductible plans they can't afford! The problem is people will scream liar every time someone mentions anything bad about the health plan, until.............they get their cancellation notice.

    October 31, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    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.
    -------------–
    My estimate has always been for 100% of the private insurance policies to change. They'd have to. How else could they conform the the Patients' Protections parts of the law?

    And as far as Home Depots and Trader Joe's changing their policies, the employees are still getting their policies from their employers. Nothing has changed, except what the employers might be offering.

    October 31, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. Fair is Fair

    "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."
    --------
    Stop whitewashing it. Obama lied. Period.

    October 31, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. Michael Benjamin

    I like my healthcare plan and I kept it.

    October 31, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  8. Hal

    'at best, the president was being disingenuous, and, at worst, deceitful. '

    He Lied.

    October 31, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    Does this mean that those who are suggesting otherwise should be considered as being deceitful?

    Do I think that the President should have continued to go with a blanket narrative that wasn't 100% accurate? Probably not. Hindsight being what it is, it only served to empower his opponents.

    That being said .... this entire Obamacare narrative both pro and con is getting stale fast.

    October 31, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    We all knew that was false from the beginning. Only the libs really believe all that nonsense about being able to provide everyone in America with a lifestyle they like and deserve...........for FREE!

    The truth is........you have to EARN your way, in the world.......or do without.

    October 31, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. Donna

    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.
    ---

    The American people will not mince words. They know Obama LIED to them repeatedly. Just like he did with the Benghazi disaster, and every other scandal in his corrupt administration.

    Keep electing Democrats America and you will end up holding the bag for their lies and deceit.

    October 31, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "And now a deal with insurance companies to cancel lower costing plans, and pushing people into high cost, high deductible plans they can't afford! "

    Deal? Wow. You so clearly don't even have the first clue what you're talking about. Yet another example of why nothing can get done, no progress can be made, non rational conversation can be had, etc.

    October 31, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    kay

    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.

    October 31, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. truth hurts but reality bites

    kay
    But what happens when the employer mandate goes into effect next year? Will then the rest of us get this kind of surprise. Would appreciate someone checking into it. Seems like if we'd known even a small group were being misled, we might have looked at the law a little more closely. We're feeling nervous about next year.
    -–

    You couldn't have looked more closely at it. Even the Democrats that voted to pass it didn't read it and know what was in it. Democrat House leader/speaker at the time Nancy Pelosi stated "we have to pass the bill before you can see what is in the bill". I contend ALL of this was hidden and kept from the American people because they knew it would never have passed if word had gotten out.

    So the bottom line is that the TEA Party and the Republicans have been right all along about Obamacare. THEY are the ones that have been telling the truth while Obama and the Democrats have been lying to and scamming the American people.

    The facts are there for everybody to see. Obama is the biggest liar to ever occupy the White House. And do you all now see why Obama has been selectively implementing Obamacare? It is to avoid these disclosures during elections so the Democrats don't get thrown out en masse like they did in 2010. So your healthcare is now a political pawn of Obama and the Democrats. How comforting is THAT?!!

    October 31, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  15. Rap Tor

    So, in other words, if the insurance provider made NO CHANGES, then it's conceivable that the policy would fit the ObamaCare requirement and policy holders could keep their plans. But if the insurer made changes like loading in additional coverages (mandated or not) and jacking rate or deductibles, the policy holders can still keep their plans. It seems to me no matter how you slice it, the insurer makes the call on YOUR policy. Not ObamaCare.
    CONCLUSION: For me, disingenuous or deceitful is not the important factor here; but the relationship between you and your carrier is. If you like your insurer – just make sure your insurer likes you back. But if they are going to price gouge you while smiling in your face – Drop 'em.

    October 31, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. Gunderson

    Awww,
    You no have worry. Soon you have "Nanny Care" Maybe Nanny Care also include "Head Shrinks" Just repeat after me, I want go home, I want go home, Obama no tell Fib, Obama no fib, Obama no fib, Body Snatcher's no get me. I have Nanny Care!

    October 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Tony

    You can't keep your plan if your plan is illegal. Also, no one said that the price of your plan won't go up.

    October 31, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. A True Conservative

    Good to see Sniffit and Rudy on again – still carying water for the Liar in Chief! Did we really need a fact check on this? Many of us, myself included, can no longer purchase the same health care that we have for years. Mine was through my employer and was the best available. Now, this year, it is not an option. Instead I can pay more for a plan that has higher copays and higher out of pocket maximums. Thanks Mr. President!! I liked my health care insurance – why couldn't I keep it?

    October 31, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. Tony D

    Michael Benjamin
    I like my healthcare plan and I kept it.
    --

    I liked my employer healthcare plan and kept too. Problem is that it cost me 19% more ($1,000) than it did last year. Where is the $2,500 a year savings Obama promised me? And I am left wondering if my employer will decide to drop healthcare coverage completely next year when the employer mandate kicks in and then me and my family will be really screwed.

    Yeah, this Obamacare is a real disaster to everybody except those that are now getting free healthcare complements of all the rest of us that are seeing our healthcare costs and taxes sky rocket. I guess when it gets bad enough I will just be forced to become a government dependent too. At least until this whole financial house of cards collapses.

    October 31, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. unc dig

    "the president was being disingenuous, and, at worst, deceitful."

    Come on you can say it, I know it hurts but HE LIED!!!!!

    October 31, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. ghostwriter

    Question: Were republicans screaming about death panels also considered deceitful? Oh yeah.......Pants on Fire.

    I do find it funny that republicans are harping on this so much. Politicians "lie" so much I don't even think twice about it anymore. I never expected anything less from Obama. Still, this one looks less like a lie. Especially since this really isn't new. We had this discussion years ago.

    This "massive number of folks losing insurance" is misleading as well. They aren't losing insurance, just getting a new plan. Will it cost more? Possibly. We had that discussion as well. What we didn't have is the talk of how insurance companies have dropped plans routinely way before Obamacare. Worked for a company for 8 years and we weighed insurance options every year. Even when we stayed with the same company, plans changed. Higher deductibles, co-pays, etc. All kinds of craziness. Blaming Obamacare for things that had been happening for years prior to Nov 2008 is misleading. But then again, that seems to be the republican way these days.

    October 31, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. much thunder..little rain

    next yr will be the real mess...the unions will go nuts

    October 31, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Salverda

    Obama can demonize the insurance industry all he wants by claiming they are the ones responsible for dropping all those millions of people off of their policies, he and everyone else knows, that the insurance companies are only following the law of Obamacare. Behind the scenes Obama is in cahoots with the insurance lobby after all, for his law (written largely by them,) is forcing millions of people to become unwilling costumers of theirs! Let's face it, Obamacare is not healthcare it is an insurance scheme, it provides healthcare to nobody, rather, it forces everybody to purchase insurance. Common sense would tell us that it is more expensive to pay for healthcare AND insurance than it is to pay only for the healthcare. The insurance itself is an unnecessary added cost that is being forced upon the people of the United States by the Obamacare bill. Forcing everyone to pay for their healthcare through some third party payer such as an insurance company costs everyone more, not less. Insurance is not free, and it is not a necessity. Insurance is a parasite on the doctor patient relationship, siphoning billions of dollars from, not only doctors and patients, but from even potential patients, and in fact, from everyone if we allow mandatory insurance to stand. The government wants to get it's hands on that healthcare insurance money. That is why the government is pushing so hard for insurance reform, it wants to "reform" health insurance into an arm of the government. Now, when people are beginning to complain about Obamacare, Obama is disingenuously blaming the insurance companies for the problems he has caused; it's just plain disgraceful.

    October 31, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Lynda Minnesota
    .Do I think that the President should have continued to go with a blanket narrative that wasn't 100% accurate? Probably not. Hindsight being what it is, it only served to empower his opponents.

    That being said .... this entire Obamacare narrative both pro and con is getting stale fast.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Agreed and agreed Lynda.
    Even though he probably did not forsee that people would actually mind going from an inadequate plan to a better one.
    Like Sebelius said: "Whatever".

    October 31, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. The HAM

    The reason we have not seen the mass insurance cancellations from employers or Unions is they have a one year pass... those come next year when they see the penalty is less than the coverage... that's just business. and to avoid penalty you simply have to cut to 29 hours... so more to come next year...

    October 31, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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