Obama to Dropped Insurance Customers: ‘Just Shop Around in the New Marketplace, That’s What It’s For’

The president says the idea that people are being dropped from their current plans is “grossly” misleading.

President Barack Obama makes remarks during a ceremonial swearing-in of FBI Director James Comey at the FBI Headquarters October 28, 2013.
National Journal
Brian Resnick
Oct. 30, 2013, 12:43 p.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama today ad­dressed con­cerns over people be­ing dropped from their health care in­sur­ance plans since the im­ple­ment­a­tion of Obama­care. Cer­tain people who had pur­chased in­di­vidu­al in­sur­ance plans, in re­cent weeks, are find­ing out that such plans do not com­ply with the new law. And some of these people will have to pay more for up­graded plans.

Crit­ics of the ad­min­is­tra­tion, and fact check­ers at pub­lic­a­tions such as The Wash­ing­ton Post, are say­ing this is a dir­ect con­tra­dic­tion of the pres­id­ent’s cam­paign prom­ise that “if you like your plan, you can keep it” un­der Obama­care.

Ad­dress­ing these con­cerns, the pres­id­ent said these dropped cus­tom­ers should use the new in­sur­ance mar­ket­place to buy bet­ter plans. This, mean­while, was after an ad­mis­sion that such mar­ket­places barely work. The pres­id­ent said that any­one “ped­dling the no­tion” that in­surers are sum­mar­ily drop­ping people is be­ing disin­genu­ous, be­cause the com­pan­ies will of­fer plans in their place. “If you leave that stuff out, you’re be­ing grossly misled.”

Here’s what the pres­id­ent said (em­phas­is ours):

Now, if you had one of these sub­stand­ard plans be­fore the Af­ford­able Care Act be­came … and you really liked that plan, you were able to keep it. That’s what I said when I was run­ning for of­fice. That was part of the prom­ise we made. But ever since the law was passed, if in­surers de­cided to down­grade or can­cel these sub­stand­ard plans, we said un­der the law, you’ve got to re­place them with qual­ity, com­pre­hens­ive cov­er­age. Be­cause that, too, was a cent­ral premise of the Af­ford­able Care Act from the very be­gin­ning. And today that prom­ise means that every plan in the mar­ket­place cov­ers a cor­set of min­im­um be­ne­fits like ma­ter­nity care and pre­vent­at­ive care and pre­scrip­tion drug be­ne­fits and hos­pit­al­iz­a­tion.

And they can’t use al­ler­gies or preg­nancy or a sports in­jury or the fact that you’re a wo­man to charge you more. They can’t do that any­more. They can’t do that any­more. If you couldn’t af­ford cov­er­age be­cause your child had asthma, well, he’s now covered. If you are one of the 45 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans with a men­tal ill­ness, you’re covered. If you’re ex­pect­ing a baby, you’re covered, safer. The sys­tem is more se­cure for you, and it’s more se­cure for every­body. So if you’re get­ting one of these let­ters, just shop around in the new mar­ket­place. That what it’s for.

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