November 1st, 2013
You often seem to hear this kind of story from some Obamacare opponents:
So, I get this letter from my health plan. It says I can't keep my current coverage because my plan isn't good enough under Obamacare rules. It tells me to go to the exchange or their website and pick a new plan before January 1 or I will lose coverage. ... Now, my plan covers about everything. Never had a procedure for either my wife or myself turned down. Wellness benefits are without a deductible. It covers mental health, drugs, maternity, anything I can think of. The new plan would have a deductible $500 higher than the one I now have and a lot more if I go “out-of-network” inside the rest of the Blue Cross national network. ... Thankfully, my Blue Cross plan is offering me an “early renewal” which means I can keep this plan I really like until December 2014—at which point my beloved health plan is toast. My health insurance company is doing everything they can—this is not their fault.Reports like this make me more than just a little bit suspicious. What sticks out here is the claim that the insurance plan the person now has is more or less perfect, and they are being forced to pay more for a worse plan. Well, if so, then what exactly is making their current plan non-compliant with the ACA relative to the inferior plan? That does not seem to make any sense. I see two possibilities: One is that insurance companies are using the ACA to defraud their customers, to dump people who have advantageous plans that the carriers would rather shed. When I see stories like the ones above, I never see any indication that the person in question did any investigating at all to discover why their current plan is non-compliant or why their carrier cannot give them only a slight adjustment to make the plan compliant. That would be the first thing I would do: call the insurer and ask what was wrong with my current plan. I have the feeling that insurers are straining hard to find faults with so-called “Cadillac” plans so they can cancel them and save money. I would not be surprised if many such cancellations are fraudulent. Or that if the plans do fail legitimately it may be on some small point would could easily be repaired and the current policy continued—but the carrier, again, would rather dump these people and therefore throw up their hands and make the false claim that “there's nothing we can do.” The other possibility is that the writers of sad stories such as these are leaving out key facts—like, for example, what was non-compliant about such perfect plans. It had to be something—so what was it? And can we be certain that they actually found all the options regarding new plans they could sign up for? Or is he being lied to? We recently heard Made-for-Fox-News stories of people who say that their insurance agents assured them they would have to pay higher premiums that sound suspiciously like the one detailed in the story quoted above—but which a cursory check showed were untrue, and better plans existed which the people had not found. The writer quoted above does not make clear that he actually checked things out for himself; could it be that he only checked with an agent who was trying to scam him? Or is the person simply yet another anti-Obamacare crusader who is either exaggerating, lying by omission, or outright making crap up? Looking at other posts on the quoted blog, it sure seems that this guy is rather vociferously opposed to Obamacare and is not inclined to treat it objectively. I'm not saying that he can't be 100% informed and 100% honest, maybe he is. I'm not saying that the insurance companies can't be honestly doing what the law requires and (as the write suggests) are truly trying their best to help their customers. What I'm saying is that stories like these, because of what they say and what they don't say, really sound like something else is in play here.