With just one day left to go before the federal government makes health insurance mandatory through its glitchy and unsecured exchanges, the Associated Press decided to do a fact check on recent claims by politicians on both sides of the issue. Among the fact checks is one on Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who pointed out last week that one of the biggest promises Barack Obama made was that the reforms wouldn’t disrupt existing health-insurance plans — “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” Republicans have been debunking that for four years, but the AP finally gets around to fact-checking McCarthy (via Twitchy):
THE FACTS: McCarthy is correct, Obama said exactly that. It was an empty promise, made repeatedly. Sebelius picks her words more carefully but still offers misleading assurances.
Nothing in the health care law guarantees that people can keep the health insurance they already have. Costs can rise, benefits can change and employers can drop coverage.
Insurance policies that are offered must now meet minimum standards, covering more preventive services, for example, and larger employers that don’t offer insurance to workers will face penalties when that provision of the law, delayed by Obama, comes into effect. But that doesn’t mean the status quo goes on for those who like what they’ve got now.
This was one of the biggest falsehoods proferred by ObamaCare advocates all along. In the US before passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 85% of Americans had existing health-care coverage — and 87% were happy with it. In fact, half of the uninsured were happy with their health care. Overhauling the system that satisfied 85% of Americans in order to do something with half of the 15% unhappy with their situation only made sense if the 85% could be assured that their situation would remain the same.
Of course, that was nonsense all along. Too bad the AP couldn’t have done more fact-checking along those lines before now. They could have easily dispensed with this canard, too:
OBAMA: “Premiums are going to be different in different parts of the country depending on how much coverage you buy, but 95 percent of uninsured Americans will see their premiums cost less than was expected.” — Largo, Md., speech.
THE FACTS: Less than who expected? Obama is referring to an administration analysis that finds premiums are coming in 16 percent lower than had been estimated by experts at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Independent analysts find similar results. But it’s a stretch to suggest that numbers crunched by CBO’s experts would reflect the expectations of regular consumers.
The AP doesn’t even bother to report the biggest part of this lie, which is the “less than expected” calculation used by HHS. Instead of calculating the announced 2014 premiums to 2014 projections, they compared them to projections for 2016. The actual expectation set by the Obama administration and Democratic leadership was that premiums would decline across the board after the implementation of ObamaCare, but instead they have skyrocketed.
Now Democrats like Nancy Pelosi argue that they never made that promise, but John Boehner’s office has a new video that makes it pretty clear:
There is one new frontier in this fact-check, however, which is the new White House talking point about cell-phone bills. Obama and his supporters claim that health care will be about as expensive as a cell-phone bill under the new exchanges, but that’s leaving out a lot of out-of-pocket expenses:
He is referring to the cheapest of four major options offered by the new markets, the “bronze” plan. But, just like with auto insurance, premiums aren’t the only potential expense for a consumer. Those who choose bronze will have to pay 40 percent of their medical bills out of pocket through deductibles and copayments. A family’s share of medical costs could go as high as $12,700 a year, or $6,350 for individuals, on top of those cell-phone-like premiums.
Plans that cost more in premiums have the same caps on annual out-of-pocket expenses, but they cover more of the bills along the way. The platinum plan, which is the best, pays 90 percent of medical bills, for example.
They’re just like your cell-phone bills … if your phone gets stolen and used to make a lot of calls to Japan or France.