White House knew Americans would lose existing health insurance

An NBC News investigation reported the Obama administration knew for at least three years that 40 percent to 67 percent of Americans in the individual market would lose their insurance plans after passage of the Affordable Care Act, yet President Barack Obama repeatedly said people who liked their insurance could keep it.

CBS News confirmed with insurers across the country that more than 2 million people are getting notices saying they can't keep their existing plans. In California, there are 279,000; in Michigan, 140,000; Florida, 300,000; and in New Jersey, 800,000. And those numbers are certain to climb.

Some companies told CBS News they've sent letters--but won't say how many. And problems with the federal website have cut short the time people have to find replacement coverage, which may be more costly than their previous health insurance.   

Bloomberg reported previously-sold health insurance policies that will be cancelled don't meet basic standards required by law after 2014. Insurers can no longer sell those plans unless they're "grandfathered in," meaning they existed before 2010 and haven't changed at all since. 

The White House doesn't dispute that many customers in the individual market will lose preferred coverage, but says they'll be offered more comprehensive health plans to replace those policies, and that many people will get tax subsidies to offset any increased costs, NBC noted.

In fact, most of the individual health plans insurers sell don't meet ACA standards that go into effect next year, according to an April Health Affairs study. The gap in coverage comes from essential health benefits, including maternity care, and mental health and substance abuse services, insurers must provide in 2014, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said the Affordable Care Act eliminates "substandard policies that don't provide minimum services," according to Bloomberg. The new plans also cap out-of-pocket costs and prevent insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, all features that can raise premiums.

ACA's drafters said from the start they'd eliminate low-quality insurance plans, arguing that the coverage was almost worse than no coverage at all if it allowed consumers to go bankrupt from catastrophic illness, Bloomberg reported. Obama's supporters say the same customers can get better coverage through the healthcare law.

 To learn more:
- see the NBC article
- read the CBS article
- check out the Bloomberg report

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