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Klein writes: "What Obamacare comes pretty close to guaranteeing, though, is that everyone who needs health insurance, or who wants health insurance, can get it."

Right now people have until March 31, 2014 to sign up for insurance. (photo: AP)
Right now people have until March 31, 2014 to sign up for insurance. (photo: AP)


Obamacare: If You Lose Your Health-Care Plan, You Can Get a New One

By Ezra Klein, The Washington Post

08 December 13

 

he furor over "if you like your plan, you can keep it" touches on a deep fear in American life: That your health-care insurance can be taken from you. That fear is so powerful because it happens so often: Almost everyone in the country can lose their health insurance at any time, for all kinds of reasons - and every year, millions do.

If you're one of the 149 million people who get health insurance through your employer, you can lose your plan if you get fired, or if the H.R. department decides to change plans, or if you have to move to a branch in another state.

If you're one of the 51 million people who get Medicaid, you could lose your plan because your income rises and you're no longer eligible or because your state cut its Medicaid budget and made you ineligible. You could lose it because you moved from Minnesota, where childless adults making less than 75 percent of the poverty line are eligible, to Texas, where there's no coverage for childless adults.

If you're one of the 15 million Americans who buys insurance on the individual market, you could lose your plan because your insurer decides to stop offering it or decides to jack up the price by 35 percent. And that's assuming you're one of the lucky people who weren't denied coverage based on preexisting conditions in the first place.

Then, of course, there are the 50 million people who don't have a plan in the first place. The vast majority of them desperately want health-care coverage. But it turns out that just because you want a plan doesn't mean you can get one.

Virtually the only people whose health coverage is reasonably safe are those on fee-for-service Medicare and some forms of veterans insurance. And even there, enrollees are only safe until the day policymakers decide to change premiums or benefit packages.

President Obama's critics are right: Obamacare doesn't guarantee that everyone who likes their health insurance can keep it. In some cases, Obamacare is the reason people will lose health insurance they liked.

What Obamacare comes pretty close to guaranteeing, though, is that everyone who needs health insurance, or who wants health insurance, can get it.

It guarantees that if you lose the plan you liked - perhaps because you were fired from your job, or because you left your job to start a new business, or because your income made you ineligible for Medicaid - you'll have a choice of new plans you can purchase, you'll know that no insurer can turn you away, and you'll be able to get financial help if you need it. In states that accept the Medicaid expansion, it guarantees that anyone who makes less than 133 percent of poverty can get fully subsidized insurance.

Health insurance isn't such a fraught topic in countries such as Canada and France because people don't live in constant fear of losing their ability to get routine medical care. A decade from now, that will be true in the U.S., too. But it's not true yet, and paradoxically, that's one reason health reform is so difficult. The status quo has left people rightly fearful, and when people are afraid, change is even scarier.


 

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+25 # universlman 2013-12-08 20:20
By claiming that if you like your health insurance, you can keep it, Obama exposed the naked truth about insurance. If your insurance company doesn't like you, they can kick you to the curb, and there is nothing that you can do about it.

The fact that the GOP wants to preserve this one-sided system is a disgrace for us and all the world to see.
 
 
-29 # Penn 2013-12-09 00:09
A poorly written article by an Obamacare Apologist will never change the fact that Obama lied and all the cancelled policies are due to the changes Obama forced on the people and the insurance carriers. The cancelled policies ended classes of people from keeping what they freely chose to use and pay for. Obamacare is a fraud and the facts prove me right.
 
 
-1 # MidwestDick 2013-12-09 18:23
Actually, the number of folks booted from their policies this year, or forced to switch to a more expensive one is in line with the number booted in any other year. But this year it's not BCBS or United's fault, it's BHO.
I know that I myself had a brutal hemorrhoid flare up this year that I lay directly at his feet. Go get 'em , Penn. It's all his fault. I'm right behind you, so don't stop short!
 
 
-1 # FDRva 2013-12-09 00:20
Sorry Ezra the only thing Obama-care guarantees is that Wall Street and their allied HMOs profit handsomely.
 
 
+2 # FDRva 2013-12-09 00:40
Administration pollsters did not factor something in.

Some of us live the life sociologists allied to Wall Street all love to poll.

And most of us do not.
 
 
+2 # FDRva 2013-12-09 00:43
This county is poorer than when President Bush and President Obama took office.

Let them share the blame for their pro-Wall Street policies.
 
 
+1 # FDRva 2013-12-09 01:01
And let us move on.
 
 
+10 # ormondotvos 2013-12-09 01:08
"The status quo has left people rightly fearful, and when people are afraid, change is even scarier."

That was the plan, which Obamacare will wreck. My goodness, workers who can change jobs freely. That's almost like competition!
 
 
+4 # FDRva 2013-12-09 02:13
And HMOs guaranteed customers--that is kind of like monopoly.

And Goldman Sachs relationship to the relevant insurers is arguably criminal.
 
 
+11 # FDRva 2013-12-09 02:24
I support single payer Medicare-For-All...

What a pity that the Democratic Party brass in DC does not.

Perhaps Reid and Pelosi should retire.
 
 
+4 # FDRva 2013-12-09 02:29
I am confident that Wall Street will provide Harry and Nancy ample pensions for their services rendered.
 
 
+10 # bingers 2013-12-09 07:53
Quoting FDRva:
I support single payer Medicare-For-All...

What a pity that the Democratic Party brass in DC does not.

Perhaps Reid and Pelosi should retire.


Boy, you really are a major purveyor of ignorance, aren't you?

If there were no conservatives blocking everything, there would be single payer like every other free world country. Democrats wanted that, but in order to get what we have they had to allow 96 Republican amendments, every one of them designed to weaken it.

EVERY economic problem we have ultimately is the fault of the right, and you know it.
 
 
+1 # Susan1989 2013-12-10 00:43
How can anyone in their right mind defend the horrifically complex, disjointed, and irrational state of the medical system in this country. Expecting people to obtain medical insurance through their workplace no longer works...because if you get sick and lose your job...bye bye health insurance. How can our politicians defend our antiquated and corrupt system when every developed country in the world guarantees care to its citizens? There is something wrong when we pay more for prescriptions and medical procedures than other countries...bas ically the American people are being ripped off. Medical care is a human service and does not belong in the for-profit world.
 

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