About that “If You Like Your Health Insurance, You Can Keep It” Pledge

It was nonsense from the beginning. And the White House knew it:

President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.

Yet President Obama, who had promised in 2009, “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan,” was still saying in 2012, “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”

“This says that when they made the promise, they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” said  Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms. Laszewski estimates that 80 percent of those in the individual market will not be able to keep their current policies and will have to buy insurance that meets requirements of the new law, which generally requires a richer package of benefits than most policies today.

This is a scandal. This is the very definition of a scandal. An administration deliberately misled the American people regarding the consequences of legislation that affects one-sixth of the nation’s economy. Bipartisan outrage, congressional investigations and legislation that fixes this mess immediately and comprehensively are the only appropriate reactions. Anyone who tries to diminish the breadth and depth of this scandal–and again, yes, it is a scandal–should frankly be laughed out of polite and civilized society.

Oh, and don’t say that you weren’t warned:

Rep. Tom Price, Republican of Georgia, giving the Republican response to the president’s weekly address, back in August 2009: “As someone who’s taken care of patients, I’d like to take a moment to clear up a couple of the president’s worst offenses. On the stump, the President regularly tells Americans, ‘if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.’ But if you read the bill, that just isn’t so.”

Finally, try to read the third paragraph of this story without falling off your chair, laughing.

Is there anyone who still refuses to admit that the rollout of the new health care plan is a complete disaster? And if there is, how much worse do things have to get before those people finally admit that Obamacare is what happens when the Hindenburg and the Titanic decide to have offspring?