The President and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act promised repeatedly: “If you like your health plan, you can keep it.” This central selling point of the health overhaul implied that the law would only have major consequences for those without health insurance. In fact, the President said the law would only serve to make private insurance more secure and more affordable.
These promises have turned out to be false. In the fall of 2013, approximately 7 to 12 million Americans received cancellation letters in the mail, explaining that their health plans would be terminated as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act. These plans did not meet requirements of the new law for 2014. The President apologized and attempted to offer an administrative “fix” to restore the plans, but this change only caused more confusion and did not serve to protect all of those facing plan cancellations.
To make matters worse, these Americans – along with millions of others – faced unexpected difficulty using the online exchanges that were supposed to provide an easy, consumer-friendly insurance shopping experience. Not only was the Website filled with glitches, but the premiums, coverage, deductibles, and doctor networks often differed significantly from the cancelled plans.
The plan cancellations should not have been a surprise to anyone. They are not a mistake in ObamaCare’s implementation, but a purposeful result of the law, which outlawed millions of existing plans. Similarly, contrary to the promise of lower costs, the higher premiums faced by most Americans are the unavoidable result of a law that shifts costs and requires everyone to have more comprehensive plans. These more comprehensive plans are not, however, guarantees for better health care access.