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Dropping Like Flies: The Insurance Policies Obama Promised Everyone They Could Keep

October 28, 2013 by  

Let’s start with a video:

It’s tempting for us to run this video at the top of every story we publish about Obamacare; the disparity between the word and the deed is just that outrageous. Look at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden trapped in their insane, frozen rictuses of approbation behind the lying President at the 1:17 mark. Only a political career built on lies could earn someone the ability to grin like that.

It’s happened in Florida (300,000 policy terminations) and in California (119,000 terminations). It’s happening everywhere. But now, Obamacare’s goal-post moving network of new requirements is bringing mass individual insurance policy cancellations right to the doorstep of Washington, D.C.

CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield is canceling more than 76,000 individual policies in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., because of changes in the Affordable Care Act that don’t allow BlueCross to “grandfather” in current policyholders who, under Obamacare, must now meet coverage guidelines that differ from those of the policies they currently — or, rather, formerly — held.

The Washington Examiner reports that the 76,000 terminations represent more than 40 percent of the 177,000 Blue Cross CareFirst customers in the D.C. region:

“Of the 177,000 individuals under age 65 who are covered by CareFirst, about 76,000 of them are in a non-grandfathered plan — a plan that will not comply with the guidelines imposed by the Affordable Care Act at their time of renewal this year or next,” CareFirst said in an email in response to an inquiry by the Examiner.

It continued, “These individuals in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and portions of Northern Virginia will be required by the health law to purchase a new ACA-compliant health plan. This phenomenon is not unique to CareFirst and its members, but rather a result of industrywide changes in accordance with new ACA health plan standards.”

Industry-wide indeed. Blue Cross FloridaBlue has terminated roughly 300,000 policies — about 80 percent of its individual customer base. Kaiser Permanente has notified 160,000 policyholders — about half its customer base in California — that their current plans are going away. An incredible 800,000 policies offered through Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna “and others” in New Jersey must be scrapped because they don’t meet Obamacare’s “keep your policy” grandfathering requirements.

At the same time, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in those States which have set up their own health insurance exchanges is far outpacing the enrollment rate for would-be paying customers who’d rather be penalized than pay the ridiculous Obamacare prices.

Summarizing the first days of the Obamacare rollout, industry watcher Bob Laszewski cites Washington State as one example:

Washington state appears to be off to a very clean start. They are saying they have finalized enrollment for about 25,000 lives––most in Medicaid. They also say another 37,000 have completed insurance exchange applications that are awaiting premium payments due in December. Washington has about 1 million uninsured and another 200,000 in the individual market. So, they appear to be on their way to enrolling about 5% of their potential market in both Medicaid and the exchange. That likely says something about where exchanges would be if they had not had the problems.

I will suggest that comparing Washington state’s health exchange experience to that of the federal exchange in the coming months, and the many states running their own exchange who also had problems, will be helpful in understanding just how damaging this start was.

For perspective, Laszewski points out that the American individual health insurance marketplace is made up of about 19 million people (a remarkably low number to begin with). Of those, 16 million have held policies that do not qualify to be “grandfathered” in under Obamacare’s new industry and individual regulations.

In each case, circumstances differ greatly from one individual policy to the next. But in the majority of cases, result is the same: You can’t, it turns out, keep your current plan.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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