It was less than a week before Obamacare’s exchanges launched that President Obama gave a speech in Maryland about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Using a community college in a friendly county as a backdrop, Obama pushed back against Obamacare critics, charging them with “fear-mongering” and mocking them for “crazy” predictions about the law. In that speech, he repeated the promise that the law’s changes would not affect those who already had health insurance. Here’s the “if you like your plan, you can keep it” segment of the speech, which made specific reference to the individual market— the segment hit with hundreds of thousands of cancellations this month because of Obamacare.
The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. (Applause.)
And so today, I want to speak plainly, clearly, honestly, about what it means for you and for the people you care about.
Now, let’s start with the fact that even before the Affordable Care Act fully takes effect, about 85 percent of Americans already have health insurance -– either through their job, or through Medicare, or through the individual market. So if you’re one of these folks, it’s reasonable that you might worry whether health care reform is going to create changes that are a problem for you — especially when you’re bombarded with all sorts of fear-mongering.
So the first thing you need to know is this: If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything. In fact, for the past few years, since I signed the Affordable Care Act, a lot of you have been enjoying new benefits and protections that you didn’t before even if you didn’t know they were coming from Obamacare. (Applause.)
In this speech, he claimed to speak “plainly, clearly, honestly,” unlike the fear-mongers.
He promised, explicitly, that those in the individual market are safe as Obamacare’s biggest changes kick in despite the fact that Obamacare was designed to outlaw some of the plans on the individual market. Ridding the insurance market of some of those plans— the ones the president now dismisses as “scams” from “bad apples” no matter how good they were—was the intended consequence of the law. Obama’s administration further ensured this result by writing the “grandfathering” regulations so narrowly as to spare virtually no one.
He made this promise long after it was obvious what would happen to the individual market and shortly after cancellation letters had already begun to land in people’s mailboxes.
If I had to guess at White House spin on this, it’d be that those with cancelled policies are being “transitioned” automatically into more expensive policies, so they don’t have to “do anything” unless your definition of anything includes paying hundreds and thousands of dollars more a year for plans they may not want. If they’d like to avoid paying more for those plans, they have to do plenty— sit for hours or days on HealthCare.gov, on the phone, or in a community center swimming through the sea of subsidy complexities to maybe find out what they’re eligible to maybe use to buy a new policy they may like on a website that may work before they become one of the uninsured or bankrupted the law was supposed to help. And, if they don’t manage to do those things, they’ll surely be eligible for a penalty. Oh, is that a “problem for you?” In other words, it was a lie.
He will give the same speech with the same promise for employer-based plans next October before those start biting the dust under the employer mandate. And, he’ll be lying then, too.
Relevant part at 12:50