At the beginning, President Barack Obama promised that the health care overhaul wouldn’t cause people to lose their current insurance: “If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period,” he said in 2009.
But recently, thousands of Americans have been receiving insurance cancellation notices because their current plans don’t meet the new health law standards. Insurance companies are terminating large percentages of their individual policies, such as Florida Blue, which is cancelling around 300,000 of them – 80 percent of its individual policies market in Florida, according to Kaiser Health News.
This is happening because the Affordable Care Act requires private insurance companies to follow its new standards, such as providing health plans that pay for a minimum of 60 percent of people’s medical expenses. So you can keep your original insurance plan if you like it – but only if it adheres to the 60 percent rule, along with the other stipulations. Another standard requires insurers to provide 10 essential health benefits, or areas of coverage, which can include mental health treatment, maternity care, ambulatory patient services, substance use disorder services, and rehabilitative services. Insurance plans that don’t meet these standards cannot continue or be sold once January 1, 2014 rolls around, as that is when the new health care law is expected to go into effect.
The cancellations are disappointing and irksome to many, especially as “[Obama’s] promise to let people keep their doctors and health plans was one of his biggest talking points when he sold the health law to Americans,” John Tozzi writes on Bloomberg. Those who are more likely to have their plans cancelled are the people who buy health plans individually rather than being insured through an employer — a group that numbered 11 million as of 2011, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
On the positive side, the new health care law will force meager insurance plans to become a bit more robust in their coverage, and even if they might be more expensive, those with limited income may be assisted by federal subsidies. Julie Bataille, press director for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, uses the term 'upgrade' rather than 'termination.' "There's nothing in the healthcare law that makes ensurers force people out of plans that they were enrolled in before the law," she told the Miami Herald. The truth is that insurers are upgrading their plans." But the fact is that only "grandfathered" plans will really be able to remain in effect. These are plans that existed before March 23, 2010, when the health care law was signed — and all the rest that don't meet the ACA's standards will be cancelled, changed, and recalibrated for better or for worse.