Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama recently announced that 4% of their 2.1 million statewide members will not be able to keep their insurance plan, due to Obamacare. In the coming weeks, approximately 84,000 Alabamians will receive notice that their current plans will end on December 31, 2013. Alabamians are not alone. Three hundred thousand Floridians, 280,000 Californians, 70,000 more in the Washington D.C. area, and millions more across the country are being told their plans will be taken away. This is making headlines because in 2009 and 2010 in order to sell the plan to the American people, President Obama declared that if you “like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your plan, period.”
It is estimated that anywhere from 10-15 million people who purchase their insurance on the open market will see their plan disappear by the end of December. Adding to President Obama’s growing list of headaches, a NBCNews investigative report revealed documents from July 2010 that the Obama administration knew tens of millions of people would lose their current plan. In 2012 with implementation in full swing, President Obama repeated the adage: “if you already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance. Period.”
The millions whose plans have been or will be cancelled now face a dilemma.
The reasoning behind President Obama’s statement is that Obamacare allowed those with plans entered into prior to 2010 to have “grandfather” status. However, narrowly drawn regulations eliminate that status if even the slightest change is made to the plan. This means that a change as insignificant as a $5 co-pay increase could eliminate a plan’s grandfather status and force its cancellation under the regulations. Obviously this was President Obama’s goal, to take individual decision making out of the equation and place the power over your healthcare with the government.
Since its initial passage, House Republicans promised to repeal Obamacare, voting over 40 times to do so. Just a few weeks ago, during the shutdown debates conservatives in Congress were derided as extremists, obstructionists, and anarchists for attempting to eliminate, or at least delay Obamacare. Today, 10 Senate Democrats, including liberal Dianne Feinstein, are pushing for a year delay to the individual mandate as President Obama’s approval ratings drop to all-time lows. What was labeled as blatant obstruction a few weeks ago is now being hailed as a sensible alternative for America.
The mandate, which is designed to force young, relatively healthy individuals into the insurance marketplace, has been described as the “linchpin” to the overall solvency of the healthcare overhaul. Without the mandate, the insurance exchanges will likely be made up of less healthy older individuals or those with pre-existing conditions, thus causing premiums for those in the exchanges to skyrocket. The millions whose plans have been cancelled now face a dilemma. Either attempt to navigate a faulty Obamacare website plagued by privacy and security concerns and a daunting hours-long application process, or face the sticker shock of paying premiums that in some instances have quadrupled.
Either way, middle class Americans who buy their insurance on the individual market make too much to receive Obamacare subsidies and do not qualify for employer-provided insurance tax breaks. It is these middle-class Americans that bear the brunt of the additional costs under Obamacare.
More and more Americans are realizing what conservatives have maintained all along: the best plan is to eliminate Obamacare and start over. Testifying before Congress earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called Obamacare’s rollout a “debacle.” The remedy to fixing this debacle is simple. Repeal it. Period.
Brandon Demyan serves as policy counsel for the Alabama Policy Institute (API), an independent non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.
For information or comments, contact Brandon Demyan at Alabama Policy Institute, 402 Office Park Drive, Suite 300, Birmingham, Alabama 35223; (205) 870-9900; or email [email protected].
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