It was voted the “Lie of the Year” for 2013, and for the thousands of already-insured Americans on the receiving end of it, it surely was. “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” President Obama said. The reality is, some Americans who already have health care coverage will have to change their plans to comply with the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). The Obama administration has apologized for repeatedly asserting otherwise, but in an effort to make up for misleading those Americans — some of whom will now have to pay more for insurance under Obamacare — the administration announced Thursday that those Americans whose plans were cancelled will be exempt from penalties if they go without insurance in 2014.
“If you have been notified that your individual market policy will not be renewed, you will be eligible for a hardship exemption,” announced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. All one has to do is “complete a hardship exemption form, and indicate that your current health insurance policy is being cancelled and you consider other available policies unaffordable.”
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that fewer than 500,000 will be allowed to claim the hardship exemption from buying insurance, according to the Chicago Tribune. They will then have the option to buy “catastrophic” insurance plans, which provide cheaper, minimal coverage. "This is a common-sense clarification of the law," said Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for Sebelius. "For the limited number of consumers whose plans have been canceled and are seeking coverage, this is one more option."
The Obamacare rollout has not been the smoothest, to say the least. Most notably, the legislation’s widely criticized website debacle has left the millions who were hoping to get insurance through the Affordable Care Act experiencing extreme delays, glitches, and, in some cases, full-on crashes upon visiting HealthCare.gov. Also, despite claims of 4.7 million visitors to the site on its first days, a memo revealed that only six people were able to successfully enroll on the first day. And, there are a number of lawsuits looming in the hopes of dismantling the law altogether. Still, the Obama administration maintains that the Affordable Care Act is what’s best for the American people.
"We are very mindful of making sure that consumers who want coverage starting in January are able to get it," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "Our goal is to make sure that everybody who wants to enroll through the exchanges is able to do so during the open enrollment period. We believe those numbers will be sufficient and that the pool of people who enroll will be of the necessary diversity to make sure that the ACA works as envisioned."
For more information on the Affordable Care Act and how you can enroll, take a look at Medical Daily’s Obamacare Survival Guide.