As seen in the attached video from June 15, 2009, almost since the beginning of the debate about the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), President Obama has been claiming that, "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." He also said in the video that if you would like to keep your doctor you will be able to do so.
It appears now that, while President Obama was probably not lying and indeed meant it, his promise cannot be kept. In fact, millions are losing their current medical insurance and many may not be able to keep their doctors. But, is that an undesirable outcome?
It turns out that many people who are desperate for any kind of insurance have acquired a false sense of security and like their health insurance even though it may be inadequate. ACA imposes a number of requirements on health insurance plans. If your insurance does not meet these requirements, then you will lose you insurance.
In fact, Kaiser Health News reports, "individual market insurers are sending out rafts of cancellation notices, telling subscribers they have to change to new plans starting in 2014."
Specifically, starting in 2014, all health insurance plans must satisfy the following 10 requirements:
- Ambulatory patient services
- Emergency services
- Laboratory services
- Maternity and newborn care
- Mental health and substance abuse services, including behavioral health treatment
- Prescription drugs
- Rehabilitative and habilitate services and devices
- Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
- Pediatric services, including oral and vision care
There are certain exceptions, however, such as "grandfathered plans" that existed before March 2010.
In review, while the details of the requirements will not be discussed here, the main point is that most people will benefit if their inadequate health insurance plan is cancelled and they are able to sign up for a more adequate plan.
There are still problems with the national site Healthcare.gov. But, certain state Web sites such as California's Covered seem to be operating adequately though all can be improved. One change from the initial days of the roll-out of Healthcare.gov site is that now one can preview and compare available plans. A big initial complaint was that one had to register first before viewing the available options.
In a quick comparison experiment of two scenarios, the following options were offered at the California site:
Scenario 1: A non-smoker (male or female) at age 30 with annual income of $30K.
Typical insurance premium was $175/month after a $96 premium assistance.
Scenario 2: A non-smoker at age 45 with annual income of $100K.
Typical insurance premium was $385 with no premium assistance.
These premiums seem to be quite reasonable. However, it remains to be seen whether Obamacare will be a success or not. The Web site problems will probably be resolved during the next few weeks. The next big issue will be whether enough healthy people will sign up to make the plans viable.