Obamacare — October 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

If your health insurance is being canceled, think twice about who to blame


The claims that the Obama administration lied about people being able to keep their coverage are greatly exaggerated.

The report by NBC News stating that the Obama administration knew that millions of Americans couldn’t keep their health insurance doesn’t tell the whole story. But it certainly gives the opposition fodder. In fact, the GOP is already gleefully rubbing their hands together in anticipation of yet another hearing. Just one more distraction from talking about jobs and the economy or getting any real work done, but that’s another story.

Yes, it’s true that some insurance plans are being canceled. My policy is being canceled effective January 1 because my current insurer will no longer cover single-person businesses. But most plans are being dropped — and people’s policies are being canceled — because they don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s requirements. These requirements include covering certain services, many of them preventive, at no cost and ending lifetime coverage caps. In other cases, the costs of some plans are increasing so insurers can, in effect, charge you for those services and features. Or, as is often the case, policy prices are simply going up just as they did before Obamacare.

But you have a choice — a choice millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions or tight budgets didn’t have before. You can go to the Obamacare marketplace and shop for other insurance that covers what you need and fits your budget. I did. I’m still comparing plans but my monthly premium will drop from $1,400 a month to between $450 and $600 a month for comparable coverage. Many people will receive subsidies to help cover any cost increases. You can also go through an insurance broker or directly to an insurance company and try your luck there. But no matter where you shop, you’ll have decisions to weigh about premium costs, what’s covered, out-of-pocket costs and deductibles. That’s not new.

For every negative story about policy cancellations and rate hikes the NBC News report shared, there are plenty of positive stories of people finding coverage they can afford. Like the 34-year-old Los Angeles man who saved more than $6,000 by buying coverage through the ACA marketplace, which only took him three hours because he’d researched available plans in advance.

I figured this might cut my premiums in half and I’d be getting better service for half the price. … Obviously three hours is a long time to wait, but it will save me over $6,000. For that, I would have waited all day.

What’s most important to remember is that insurance companies set their own rates. The Obama administration did not tell them to raise the prices of plans that aren’t available on the ACA marketplace. The Obama administration didn’t tell them to stop offering plans instead of enhancing them to offer better coverage. What’s more, most plans purchased before 2010 are grandfathered in — meaning the insurance company can still offer them, and you can keep them, even though they don’t meet the ACA’s standards for better coverage.

The Obama administration has raised objections to the NBC News report, for the reasons above and many others.

The bottom line is this: It’s like buying any other product on the open market — which the Obamacare marketplace is, along with the rest of the insurance market. You have to do your homework and you have to be an educated consumer. If your rates never increased in the past, you’re lucky. Mine went up by $100/month every single year for the last six years, at least. If you’ve never had your plan change in the past, then count your blessings.

But now, thanks to Obamacare, being at the mercy of a high-priced plan with sub-standard coverage isn’t your only option. That’s the whole point, if you just look past the manufactured outrage, spend a little time, and make an informed choice based on fact, not hysteria.