Obama must calm fears on health law

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The attacks against President Barack Obama’s health-care law’s rollout will likely intensify now that millions of Americans are losing health insurance plans he repeatedly said they could keep under his signature Affordable Care Act.

Obama on Thursday apologized to those who are losing health insurance plans.

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News.
The president’s apology comes at a time when there are already problems surrounding the rollout of his signature legislative achievement, often referred to as “Obamacare.”

The health care website that was supposed to be an easy way for Americans to purchase insurance has been riddled with technical issues.
But the latest problem is far more serious than computer glitches on a website.

With at least 3.5 million Americans receiving cancellation notices from their insurance companies, Obama is going to need to reassure them about the Affordable Care Act and calm fears of real problems exaggerated by conservative critics of the law.

For example, conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck said Obama knew that 50 percent of Americans would lose their health insurance. This is a wildly exaggerated claim with no evidence to support it.

What is true is that the White House did know the health care law would affect both the individual market where people buy insurance on their own and the group health insurance markets where an employer does the buying and tells workers their options.

Most Americans have group health insurance.

The people being adversely affected by the Affordable Care Act are those who buy insurance in the individual marketplace, a number that totals between 12 million and 15 million people.

An NBC report cited administration sources who said early on, they expected that up to three-quarters of people in the individual market would get cancellation notices.

But well before Obamcare became law, a 2004 study found that only 17 percent of individual policyholders kept their plans for more than two years.

That’s because many people buy individual insurance for the purpose of buying short-term protection. Also, people in the individual market might be dropping their health insurance plans as much as insurance companies might be canceling them altogether.

The Obama administration should have prepared people more for rollout problems and the president should have been more clear and candid with Americans about the full impact and possible adverse effects of the new law.

The fact is, the health care law itself made the president’s promise that Americans who liked their insurance coverage would be able to keep it almost impossible to fulfill. The law mandates that insurance coverage must meet certain standards and that policies falling short of those standards would no longer be valid unless they were grandfathered. This means some policies were expected to disappear.

All this does not mean the Affordable Care Act is a bad law. Because of the law, now millions of Americans will have affordable health insurance and will not be denied health insurance because of preexisting conditions.

Obama must continue to communicate its benefits and make necessary tweaks to the law.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)

 

 

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