Even before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, its opponents had launched into a relentless stream of rants about it. The latest invective involves the fact that many people who had previously purchased private health insurance received notification that their policies were being cancelled. Conservatives quickly pointed out that this turn of events flew in the face of President Obama’s claim that if you like your own insurance policy you can keep it. The words “lie” and “liar” then got tossed around a lot. Where does the truth reside in all this?
First, there are people who have health insurance through their employer, whether a private company or some government agency at the local, state or federal level, and another group of individuals who took it upon themselves to buy high-quality health care insurance. Taking the two together, they comprise approximately 80% of folks in the US who have coverage, much of which is comprehensive, and meets the minimum requirements established by the ACA. Obama’s claim validly applies to them.
Second and in contrast, among all those with a health care policy, about six percent (6%) secured for themselves what is now being referred to as “junk insurance”; so-called because their plans are far from comprehensive, involve deductibles well in excess of $2,000., and co-pays that are a good deal higher than average. Because of the low quality of these policies, they almost always fail to meet the minimum requirements built into Obamacare (OC). In that case, their owners were the recipients of the aforementioned cancellations. (1) They alone have a legitimate reason for calling the President disingenuous.
Outraged over their sense of having been deceived, many of these individuals took their stories of cancellation to the media that then cast them as the “horrors” of OC (2). Fortunately, some intrepid reporters with journalistic integrity followed up by asking the recipients of the cancellations if they had looked into replacing their invalidated policy with one that could be secured through OC. Far more often than not, the answer was “No”. That led the reporters to pursue such an inquiry themselves on behalf of the people being interviewed. What they routinely found was that by using one of the many OC options, these same individuals could get wider coverage, with smaller deductibles and co-pays, at competitive premiums compared to what they had been paying for “junk”. In some cases, the potential buyer even qualified for a government subsidy. These sorts of “happy endings”, multiplying in number, are being brought to the public’s attention (3) as a much-needed counterpoint to the “horror” stories that conservatives have seized upon in their ongoing effort to not just discredit OC, but to insure that it fails.
Finding where the truth resides in this day and age of non-stop partisan political noise is no easy task. Hopefully, this blog has helped.
1. Examples of such minimum requirements include providing coverage for a pre-existing condition, for a child up to 26 years of age, and maternity care.
2. Recall “Epilogue to a trilogy: How the News Media Misleads us”. Published at this blogsite on July 13, 2013.
3. See “Another Obamacare Horror Story Debunked”; Michael Hiltzik; LA Times’ Oct. 30, 2013.