Grandfathered Health Care Plans: Why the Lie?

November 12, 2013

Millions of Americans who purchased their own health insurance have had their plans cancelled and learned replacements will cost them much more. It’s been proved now that the administration knew that existing health insurance plans would not be grandfathered; but continued to state unequivocally that, under ObamaCare, people could keep their current plan.

How could they do this? Why did they lie?

The President, in trips around the country to encourage passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), back in 2009 and 2010, assured people countless times that, under the health care reform bill, if they liked their current insurance plan, they could keep it. Then, in June, 2010, three short months after the bill became law, Health and Human Services (HHS), published Preservation of Right to Maintain Existing Coverage, a regulation that defined grandfathered health insurance plans so narrowly that an estimated 80% plans would be guaranteed to fail. Nonetheless, the President and his HHS appointees continued to guarantee that, under the new law, you could keep your health plan.

How Could This Deceit Be Justified?

How could they justify doing this? The President’s aides decided, at the time, that the President should continue to make this promise because, after all, only the people who purchased their own insurance would be affected, about 5% of the under-65 market.     But that’s over 15 million people. Several million people these past weeks have now learned that the health insurance plans they’ve had and have been happy with are being cancelled. Worse, replacement plans will cost more, in some cases, many times more what their insurance plans cost today.

Instead of apologizing or, at least, explaining, officials are blaming the health insurers.  The President even refers to them as ‘bad apples.’ These ‘bad apples’ had sold what officials called shoddy and sub-standard health plans to the public. Never mind that the people who bought the plans were satisfied with them and felt the plans served their needs. Never mind that their government mandated replacements cost much more and covered benefits most people don’t need or want such as maternity care, drug and alcohol counseling, mental health treatments, and pediatric care in addition to normal medical coverage.

Two Reasons Why the Deception Continued

There are two reasons this lie was perpetuated. For one, the government needs people to purchase the new ObamaCare mandated plans on the state health insurance exchanges.  Unless those people purchase the health plans offered on the exchange, either at their inflated prices or with government-provided subsidies, the health insurance exchanges will experience what is known as a ‘death spiral‘ and fail. This happens when not enough healthy people buy insurance to cover the cost of medical expenses for the sick.

Secondly, an antagonistic public had to be convinced that the law would be a good thing.  From the beginning, the health care reform law was unpopular. Members of Congress faced angry voters at town hall meetings and demonstrations.  Nevertheless, the law’s supporters including the administration, wanted this bill to pass. It was necessary to make people believe that nothing would change for them; that if they liked the health insurance they could keep it.

Two decades ago, this very issue killed the health care reform law that President Clinton wanted passed. “Harry and Louise,” a television ad sponsored by the insurance industry featured a couple at their kitchen table dismayed that they’ve lost the health insurance they liked and now must chose from more expensive plans that government bureaucrats had designed. President Obama’s oft-repeated statement was meant to prevent another “Harry and Louise” moment from happening.

Promise was One of Many Tricks Used to Pass the Legislation

In actuality, that statement was part of a full-on strategy of deceitful contrivances and machinations needed to pass the ACA. The true cost of the bill was hidden behind accounting tricks and unrealistic sources of income. The content of the bill’s 2700 pages was never made public and few, if any, of the very people responsible for voting on it, were given the opportunity to read it in its entirety.

That wasn’t all: Negotiations between Senate and House were done behind closed doors instead of public hearings. Arcane and questionable rules of order were used to force its passage. While no Republicans supported the bill, Democrats who wavered were literally bribed with legislation benefiting their state. Lying to the public about what would happen to them was part of the whole fabric of deception necessary to get this law passed.

The best resource to help those whose plans have been cancelled is a local insurance agent who is qualified and certified by the state to discuss options available under the Affordable Care Act.  Call 1-866-657-8222 to talk to a licensed and certified agent at Terpening Insurance.

Post author Carole Spinak