Facing growing political pressure, President Barack Obama announced Thursday that those who had seen their health insurance plans canceled under Obamacare would now be able to keep them through the end 2014.
After millions of Americans who have private health insurance received notice that their current plans were being canceled due to requirements under the Affordable Care Act, Democrats began to join Republicans calling on the administration to restore the coverage. Obama said repeatedly while campaigning for Obamacare's passage that those who like their current plans would be able to keep them, but neglected to mention that was only the case if their coverage met the minimum requirements necessary under the 2010 law or qualified under the law's grandfathering provision.
Thursday the president conceded that the rollout of the health care law has been rockier than he'd hoped, but said he was willing to work with members of both parties to fix problems with Obamacare as it is implemented.
"I completely get how upsetting this can be for a lot of Americans, particularly after assurances they heard from me that if they had a plan that they liked they could keep it," Obama said. "And to those Americans, I hear you loud and clear. I said that I would do everything we can to fix this problem. And today I'm offering an idea that will help do it."
The canceled plans were those either purchased in the private insurance market after the law took effect, or plans that have changed in the interim. The president said that because state insurance commissioners would be responsible for deciding what plans can be sold in their states, the fix would not solve the problem for everyone who saw their coverage end.
While the backtracking may quell some of the political opposition to adverse effects of the law, the president of America's Health Insurance Plans said that the last-minute change may negatively affect the insurance marketplace in the coming year:
Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers. Premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption of when consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace. If due to these changes fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase in the marketplace and there will be fewer choices for consumers. Additional steps must be taken to stabilize the marketplace and mitigate the adverse impact on consumers.
The Obamacare rollout has also been marred by technical issues preventing people from being able to shop for and sign up for new health insurance plans on the healthcare.gov site. Enrollment numbers released by the administration Wednesday were below expectations, with only 106,000 successfully obtaining coverage.
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