Cancelled Health Insurance Policies Put Spotlight on Democrats

The rocky Obamacare rollout got even rockier this week, as thousands of Americans continued to receive cancellation notices from their existing health care providers. What’s worse, a newly-discovered IRS document written in 2010 predicted just this scenario – that many Americans would be dropped by their insurers as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats have long maintained Americans could keep their existing plans. President Obama said so himself while he was promoting the health care legislation back in 2009.

“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

Despite what the president said publicly, the 2010 document predicted “40 percent to 67 percent” of Americans would lose their coverage as a result of the law.

White House spokeswoman Jessica Santillo, who has been fielding much of the Obamacare messaging, said the president was up-front with the American people.

“Nothing in the Affordable Care Act forces people out of their health plans: the law allows plans that covered people at the time the law was enacted to continue to offer that same coverage to enrollees – nothing has changed and that coverage can continue into 2014.”

She argued that Americans getting cancellation notices are in policies with inadequate consumer protections anyway.

“But in the vast majority of cases, those same insurers will automatically shift their enrollees to a plan that provides new consumer protections and, for nearly half of individual market enrollees, discounts through premium tax credits,” she said.

The statements seem to represent an attempt at damage control. A report from CBS news on Monday said that more than 2 million Americans have been told they can’t renew their policies.

Even some top Democrats concede they should have been clearer about the possible consequences of the Affordable Care Act.

Steny Hoyer, a top Democratic official, admitted on Tuesday that his party should have been “more precise” by acknowledging that some existing heath insurance plans could be cancelled.

Those receiving the cancellation notices are less than pleased. 

Sixty-two year old George Schwab, of North Carolina, said he was happy with his existing plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield, which insured both he and his wife for $228 a month. In September he was told the policy was no longer available. The price of a comparable plan is now $1208 a month – a more than five-fold increase.

“The deductible is less, but the plan doesn’t meet my needs. It’s unaffordable.”

Schwab’s frustration is part of a growing chorus of unease with the health care law. 

Despite good intentions, Democrats may be forced to make some changes to the law in the coming months, and glitchy websites could be the least of their problems.

“Everybody’s worried about whether the website works or not, but that’s fixable. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. This stuff isn’t fixable,” Schwab said.