You CAN’T Keep It: A Feature, Not a Bug


In recent weeks, millions of Americans have been notified that they will not be able to keep their current health insurance plans. This despite the promise of President Obama that, as he said over and over again, “if you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.” This was a claim that the president knew to be untrue when he made it. As the Wall Street Journal reported last week (pay-walled): “[S]ome White House policy advisers objected to the breadth of Mr. Obama’s ‘keep your plan’ promise. They were overruled by political aides.” The President knew that Obamacare would force some people out of coverage but made the political choice to claim the opposite.

Faced with increasing political blow-back the administration’s first defense was an attempt to explain away the awkward fact that President Obama sold America his legacy legislation under false pretenses. There was a brief attempt to blame the insurance companies—after all the policy cancellations came from insurance companies, not HHS. But of course, the reason the Big Bad Insurance companies cancelled millions of people’s old policies was that Obamacare made it illegal for the Big Bad Insurance companies to continue offering them.

Let me be clear, people losing their old individual insurance plans isn’t a bug of Obamacare, it’s a feature. People in the individual market tend to be comparatively healthy. Moving them, by hook or by crook, into the exchanges will help offset the cost of insuring those who are less healthy.

What’s made this particular feature less palatable than it was always going to be is the fact that the folks who got dumped from their individual plans were supposed to have a viable alternative waiting for them in the Obamacare exchanges. Unfortunately for them, three-and-a-half years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, the Obama administration still hasn’t built a working alternative. So millions of Americans face the prospect, not only of being forced out of insurance plans they wanted to keep, but of having their insurance lapse altogether. In the near term, Obamacare might actually increase the number of Americans without health insurance. Just in time for Christmas, too!

While the administration is finally admitting that millions of Americans won’t be able to keep their health insurance, the administration is also insisting that those same Americans should be grateful.  “Keep in mind,” President Obama said last week, “that most of the folks who got these cancellation letters, they’ll be able to get better care at the same cost or cheaper in these new marketplaces.”

According to the White House, those individual plans that Obamacare made illegal were mostly “junk” anyway, since they didn’t meet essential minimum benefit requirements—essentials like maternity care for a single male . While it’s true that some folks stand to gain from the exchanges—better coverage, less cost—that’s little consolation to the millions of Americans who will be getting less while spending more. As David Freddoso asked in the Washington Examiner last week, “If these millions of cancelled plans are ‘junk,’ then why are so many of the Obamacare substitutes so vastly inferior and more expensive?”

What can be done to fix all these problems? That seems pretty straightforward. Senate Democrats have suggested that Congress pass a law to widen the “grandfather clause” for existing plans so people can keep their insurance, just like the President promised. Others have suggested delaying the individual mandate—and its infamous “tax”—at least until the exchanges are up and running. Without such a delay, and unless makes a radical recovery, the President (and Democrats who are up for reelection in 2014) will have to explain why his signature law deprives people of insurance, offers not replacement, and yet taxes them, up to 1% of household income, for failing to have insurance. Pressure on the administration to implement some of these fixes is growing rapidly.

So why is the White House so resistant? Because the President knows that delaying the individual mandate or increasing the number of individual plans people are allowed to keep would place even greater pressure on the already failing exchanges. Such delays would pose a threat to the law even if the website was up and running; that it’s not only makes the danger more acute.

Unless relatively healthy people enter (or are forced into) the Obamacare exchanges—because they lost their individual coverage, or simply because they are mandate by the law to do so—the exchanges will face the possibility of an unsustainable price spiral. So far, the administration fears that outcome, and what it might mean for the survival of Obamacare, more than the growing displeasure of the American public.

So far.





  • Yusuf Ramadan

    Wow! You really fooled me. After reading your article “The Francis Revolution” I was fooled into believing you to be a champion of the “true” gospel of Jesus the Christ or Isa ibn Maryum as Muslims refer to him. I was impressed with your support for Pope Francis as the real and unapologetic representation of Christ on earth as a champion of the persecuted,disaffected and oppressed. I didn’t totally agree with your analysis of religion vs “political” but at least you displayed a real understanding of his eschewing of the trappings of “pomp and circumstance” and bonding with and concern for the poor. Now you do a complete 180 on us with your complete misunderstanding and lack of appreciation for the ACA which you derisively join in calling Obamacare. Of Course it’s not a “bug” or even a “feature” it’s the Whole Damn point! So you thought that even though ACA was Designed to Eliminate! and prevent onerous,Unjust (yes Big AND BAD) insurance companies from taking your money until you got sick and then denying you coverage due to phony “”pre-existing conditions”, capping your coverage at arbitrary and absurd levels and kicking your children off the policy at 18 while they were still completing their education and financially dependent on their families. Did you or Anyone believe the Presidents assertion that “if you like it you can keep it” meant you could continue one of the above referenced policies in Spite of the new law? Perhaps you did. But “what would Jesus do?” Thought you were an enlightened Catholic not some “ditto head” or Bill O’Reilly “pinhead”. My bad. Praying for you. Yusuf

  • JKL

    I advise Virginia Grace to read the definition of “Socialism”. Then, research what the Popes from Pius IX on have said about Socialism. Pope Leo XIII said, “while they (Socialists) seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one’s mode of life.”
    The AHA is a socialist program that appears, on the surface, as what Virginia Grace believes, but in it’s entirety redistributes wealth to each according to his or her need.
    There were better ways to require insurance companies to provide coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. Obamacare was poorly written, enacted, voted on, and researched. If enacted exactly as written it still would have left 30 million Americans uninsured. In addition, it is predicted that more than 40 million Americans will lose the current policies they have and will be forced to purchase more expensive policies with higher deductibles. (No $2500 average cost savings as Obama promised). These hardships affect middle class working families, and not the “rich” cronies that Obama associates with, as Virginia falsely believes. It hurts the middle class, Virginia, and it pushes Granny over the cliff- thousands of recent Medicare Advantage elderly patients have lost access to their doctors.
    It is also a political ploy to control 1/6 of the economy and determine for all Americans what is considered “health” and what is not. Birth control pills, abortifacients, in vitro fertilizations are considered “health” coverage and they take funds away from hip implants, cataract surgeries, and other procedures that improve the quality of life for most elderly.
    In addition, how “fair” is it really, Virginia, when Obamacare takes billions from Medicaid for seniors and the poor? How can the Medicaid recipients receive the best medical care they deserve when they cannot access their doctors?
    Finally, Virginia Grace, you need to put your faith and trust in Jesus and follow your Catholic religion and not any political party, especially one that has manipulated and brain washed you through the media. Jesus wants us to help the less fortunate through our own acts and not through coercive measures enacted by governments with nefarious motives. The ACA is about control. Period.

  • Virginia Grace

    The affordable health care program is a great thing. Apparently, you must be against those who are not healthy. Don’t be shocked, you can be healthy today and not tomorrow. The only ones paying more are those who are rich. Jesus wants us to help the less fortunate. You don’t get it. Jesus would join the affordable health care where those who have help those who don’t. I guess you like “pre existing conditions” too. I am a Catholic, but you disgust me. You are selfish and not thinking of others. Let everyone be given the best medical care that everyone deserves. People should not have to beg. It is a sliding scale and is very fair for all.



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