Obama’s “You Can Keep Your Plan” Promise Regarding the Affordable Care Act

Image courtesy of recycledminds.com

Image courtesy of recycledminds.com


Just found this article about Obamacare on CSMonitor.com:

At the root of the dispute is this: The Obamacare law allows people to keep health plans they had before the law was passed, if those plans still exist. But in many cases, the plans have evolved since the law’s 2010 passage – due, at least in part, to minimum benefits mandated in the new law. That has prompted many Americans to feel misled by the president.

Many people who like their 2013 plans are finding they can’t keep them for 2014.

Last week, he reformulated his “you can keep it” pledge to make it more accurate. “If you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really like that plan, what we said was you could keep it, if it hasn’t changed since the law was passed,” he said.

Because most plans have evolved since 2010 passage, the “if” in Obama’s statement is a big one.

I found this article while looking up info about cancelled plans due to Obamacare. I figured that I should know what all the fuss is about. At this point, I mostly get it, but not completely. Somebody help me out! What does it mean that people’s old plans have “evolved” since Obamacare became a law? Why would those plans have changed? Is that why people’s plans have been cancelled?

Can someone who understands this stuff better than me leave a comment?

26 thoughts on “Obama’s “You Can Keep Your Plan” Promise Regarding the Affordable Care Act

  1. Pingback: Obama On Military Cuts: If You Like Your Job, You Can Keep It | MAIDEN ON THE MIDWAY

  2. I heard about this on NPR. The Affordable Health Care Act includes requirements for new minimum standards that all plans must include (i.e. prenatal, postnatal, mammograms). So some old plans could be cheaper if they only provided services to men for example.

  3. The insurance companies deliberately changed those old plans in order to get rid of them. Their new business model rests on the improved coverage standards established by Obamacare. Think of it this way:

    If you own an automobile dealership and the latest models come in with 25% better gas mileage, you would want to clear your existing inventory as soon as possible to make space for the more competitive and marketable vehicles. This motive is easy to understand from a business perspective.

    President Obama either wasn’t being completely truthful in his statement, or he was naive in believing the insurance providers would allow people to keep those old plans. Regardless, his factually inaccurate statement deserves criticism.

    • Hi Robert!
      I’ve been away for a while but I’m back now! For the first week or so that I wasn’t blogging, it was because I was focusing on finals at school. Then, I had to send my computer to Staples for repair, and they took a week and a half to fix it! That’s a long time to go without a computer when you really need it!

      Anyway, I’ve just finished reading the comments to this post. My poli sci exam actually had questions about Obamacare, specifically concerning the legistlative process. In a documentary we watched in class, as well as in a book we used for class called “Health Care Reform & American Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know,” the class learned that Obama had extensive talks with what is known as “BigPharma,” and actually promised them he’d include the individual mandate in Obamacare. I’m wondering, then, how he didn’t know that insurance companies would change their plans once the new health care law was enacted. I totally see why they would want to get rid of the plans they knew wouldn’t be effective in the new system, but wouldn’t this have all been discussed in advance? Or, did BigPharma know all along that they’d do this and just didn’t tell the president? What do you think?

      By the way, I highly recommend this book to you since you have enrolled in Obamacare. It has reallly good info in it that, in general, refutes almost all the crap right-wing media has been telling people about it. It’s also a practical guide for people who have enrolled or are thinking about enrolling.

      • “Tanya! Where have you been, young lady?”

        [Insert image of overly protective father]

        [Insert explanation about school finals, broken computer, etc.]

        “That’s no excuse! You should’ve called!”

        * * * * *

        Lol! Sorry, I couldn’t resist!

        Regarding your questions, here’s what we know and what we don’t know:

        From: http://thesecularjurist.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/the-reasons-why-some-existing-health-insurance-plans-are-being-cancelled-through-obamacare/

        “Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law… None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.”

        So, the Obama Administration did know that these “junk” insurance policies could be cancelled. However, we don’t know exactly what was discussed in the negotiations between the White House and the major health insurance providers (Big Pharma, i.e. the drug manufacturing pharmaceutical industry, probably wasn’t directly involved in conversations about cancelled policies). Did the major health insurers mislead the President? Was there an unfortunate misunderstanding? Did Obama blatantly lie when he repeatedly said nobody’s plan would be cancelled? We just don’t know, but doesn’t it sound like a great research project?

        Anyway, welcome back! We’ve missed you!

        • The first part of your response about being like the overly protective father was so sweet! I smiled as I read that! Glad to be back!

          In regards to BigPharma, I meant to write that Obama had talks with insurance companies about the individual mandate, not with BigPharma. I mispoke. He did have talks with BigPharma, but the content was more about whether or not the govt would regulate Rx prices. As far as I know, Obama decided against extensive regulations, although I’m unclear about the details. I’ll have to read that part of the book again.

          It’s extremely disapointing to hear that Obama knew that cancellations would happen. I don’t think the book gets into that since it was updated in 2012, before all this happened. The documentary may not have much, either, though it may offer some clues, since it deals mainly with the behind-the-scenes aspects of the negotiations between the president and various groups.

          I just read the post you provided a link to. I don’t know how I missed it before, but it answers a lot of my questions. Very well researched. I think that, at this point, we may have to focus most of our attention on how the Affordable Care Act performs, as opposed to what Obama could’ve/should’ve known. There probably isn’t anything we can do about it now.

  4. Those old plans that got cancelled basically sucked because they didn’t cover much of anything, so those who had them will have to sign up on the new exchanges on HealthCare.gov. As for the president, I’m not sure if he was intentionally lying as he did not know the insurance companies were going to change the plans the way they did.

  5. Tanya: Obama knew and he cut a deal. Being surprised at this is surprising to me. What are they teaching you in Political Science anyway. If you have bought the “branding” bull shit that got him elected you should review how this guy got into office. I suggest starting with Barack Obama, the unauthorized Biography by Webster Griffin Tarpley.

    This by all means is not the last word on the subject but it will get you started on how our system works. And it’s not all that crap about the “check and balance system”!

    This entire health plan is simply a boondoggle and the only true “winners” are the insurance industry and Big Pharma. If Obama had had really wanted to help people he would have had pushed single payer but he sold the public out.

    If you look at his other policies it’s the same thing. He is a pawn not a leader.

    • I get what you’re saying. In your opinon, isn’t there anything good about Obamacare? Isn’t it at least better than what we had before? Someone in my class said that although Obamacare isn’t anywhere near ideal, it could be a good stepping stone to a single-payer system. I agree- this country still seems unready to admit how bad our system is, so maybe a taste of how things could be better will prime people for bigger change in the future.

      • That Obummercare could be a first step to single payer is a straw-dog argument, in my opinion. People say this a lot but once Obummer sold out to Big Pharma and the insurance industry the deal got closed. The kind of money that is paid out by these groups is enormous and they have no incentive to “give up” the power and the influence to make huge profits on the backs of sick people. Why should they?

        They believe in profit over people. Their own self interest and greed trumps everything else.

        Now if you or your friends in class are under the impression that your Congress or the President (all of them … not just Obummer) really are representing YOU, well I’m sorry to say you are delusional. The system is rigged and Americans believe that if they vote it can be changed …….. that is like a child that thinks that if they really-really wish hard enough their wish will come true.

        Remember you are dealing with a capitalist system and in that system profit is the driving force even if one ruins the environment, encourage wars, and step on workers.

        As long as the bottom line is profit…..period!

        • Tube, I’m going to jump in here because this is an important discussion.

          Are the big health insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers making large profits from Obamacare? Yes.

          Is the American political class representing the people? No.

          Is the system rigged? Yes.

          But, you are so wrong about voting. It’s the ONLY realistic thing we have to combat the corruption. If we sit on the sidelines at election time and scream our heads off, who do you think will care? If we don’t vote, we don’t have any power whatsoever. That strategy is self-defeatist, will generate even more public frustration, and inevitably points to revolution as a final solution (revolutions usually don’t turn out very well, just look at history).

          In the absence of democracy, some form of authoritarianism ALWAYS fills the void. It has many names, of which fascism, totalitarianism, and dictatorship are just a few. When we lose our right to vote, we lose everything we take for granted – the right to free speech, the right to practice our spiritual beliefs, the right to move about freely, and especially our basic rights as human beings.

          Democracy isn’t perfect and nobody ever said it was, but it’s vastly superior to the alternative. Folks who don’t understand this are in dire need of a serious lesson in history. FDR didn’t achieve social progress by himself. He had lots of helpers, and among them were the millions of concerned Americans who voted him into office four consecutive times.

          Best regards,

          • To Robert and Tubularsock-
            Robert makes some very important points in his response to you, Tubular. Tubular, I understand how fed up you are with the system, BUT I agree with Robert that we can’t just sit and do nothing. Yes, much of Obamacare helps put more money in the wrong people’s pockets, but if he hadn’t made those concessions, the system would never have changed at all. That point is very important- change is happening. It’s not ideal, but it’s something.

            I am an activist, and my blog reflects that. I am an activist because I believe, like you, that change and reform in many systems, including the health care system, is absolutely necessary. But unlike you (from what you’ve said), I believe that change is worth fighting for even when it seems like it’s a long shot. Voting is one way to create change- part of why Obamacare got passed at all is because voters got so sick and tired of terrible healthcare that they voted him and some of his supporters into office. Yes, most politicians don’t give a crap about what the average person wants, but they have to care at least a bit when re-elction time comes. If we stop voting, than they have zero reason to care. We’d be giving away the bit of power we have.

            Consumerism, as yucky as it is, also offers a way to demand and create change. I’ve said in another post that I have stopped using any Google online products and apps because they have terrible business practices- they are in alliance with the Koch Bros, they are in alliance with climate-change deniers, and they allow the sale of illegal ivory despite pledging not to do that. They also invade their GMail customers’ privacy. If every Google customer boycotted Google, can you imagine how many billions of dollars in profits they’d lose? They’d be forced to change, not because they give a damn about global warming or endangered elephants, but because they care about their bank accounts.

            If Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, and every other person who desired change simply said to themselves, “Oh, what the hell, I’m stupid and naive to think I can do anything because the system is so corrupt,” than the world would be a lot worse off. As a woman, I wouldn’t be allowed to vote if women activists did nothing. In some parts of the world, I wouldn’t even have been taught to read, much less go to school.

            All this is to say that I’m angry, but not cynical. Therefore, my blog does not take on a cynical tone, but one instead of “Here’s what’s wrong, now what can we do about it?” If that means I’m dillusional, as you say, so be it. I want to be one of those people who makes a difference, even if just a small one.

          • Robert, thank you for bringing forth this important point and please in no way take what I say as an attack upon you. I appreciate an active discussion of views and I am not interested in alienating anyone but I think you are wearing rose colored glasses when it comes to the chimera of voting.

            Now Tubularsock is as optimistic as anyone about the IDEA of voting. And I always vote in every election. Yet, as I look at the reality I see a different picture from you Robert.

            First lets get the history thing settled. It is true that history shows that revolution usual doesn’t produce democracy except the American Revolution and even that didn’t produce “true” democracy.

            The vote was only given to the property owners because they were the only ones, in the founding fathers point of view, that had a “stake in society”.

            So the “masses” and of course the “slaves” and the indentured servants and the woman had no voting power at all.

            And then you add the electoral college which becomes a “safeguard” between the hoi-polloi and the election of the President of the United States.

            And then your plug in gerrymandering so the vote in different areas are rigged so only one party can win.

            And then you add in the financial power that inundates the entire system.

            And then you add in the corruption of an election that was rigged and supported by the Supreme Court (the election of 2000 to be clear)

            And then add in the Obama Presidency that is the only example of a Black Man in White Face from no where all of a sudden being placed into the Presidency.

            Would you care to tell me exactly where YOUR vote counted for anything except for the fact that you got to place a X on a ballot?

            As you stated yourself the system is rigged so explain to me again why the act of participation is valuable?

            To me it only covers the entire process over with the IDEA that one’s vote counts for something and keeps the American public captured in a belief that they have a say in their government. THEY DON”T and the sooner they awaken to that fact the greater the chances of the power structure being confronted.

            Otherwise we will continue to tread water with no progress to become free!

            Cheers, Tube

          • Tube, I understand your frustrations because I felt the same way in my youth. My nephew and I have had similar discussions. To your points:

            You wrote: “… I always vote in every election. Yet, as I look at the reality I see a different picture from you Robert.” I must disagree. We see the same picture, but differ on how to change it. Although I’m pleased that you do vote, I fail to see how you can reconcile that with your belief that our votes are inconsequential.

            Your criticisms of America’s system of governance, and of its founding fathers, are valid. However, you completely ignore the magnitude of progress which the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution represented at that time. Should we discard them, along with the Magna Carta, and go back to the feudal system where the so-called “Royalty” ruled by arbitrary decree?

            In response to your question: “As you stated yourself the system is rigged so explain to me again why the act of participation is valuable?” The system isn’t rigged because of democracy, it is rigged because of the opponents to democracy (i.e. oligarchs, plutocrats, and proponents of theocracy). If there was no citizen participation in governance, the rigging of the system would be dramatically worse.

            You wrote in response to Tanya: “Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and many others all went to the streets and threatened the power structure. The political fringe elements that were inspired by them were willing to burn the mother fuckers down AND THAT IS WHAT THE POWER STRUCTURE UNDERSTANDS!” That historical perspective is factually inaccurate. MLK, Parks, Mandela, and the multitude of others from that movement advocated for civil rights through peaceful protest, not violence. The 1963 March on Washington symbolized by King’s “I have a dream” speech was completely peaceful. Had it been violent, it would have set back the civil rights movement by decades if not more. Virtually all the violence of that era was instigated by segregationists. I should know, because I watched it as it happened.

            Anarchy, however well intentioned, does not offer solutions… only destruction.

          • Tanya. I appreciate your active approach to change. But we as a nation have actually lost the result of the vote but we still have the act of voting.

            Tubularsock is not advocating not doing anything and giving up but we as a nation have come to an impasse and voting is just a chimera that tricks one into thinking that change can be had from the ballot box.

            Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and many others all went to the streets and threatened the power structure. The political fringe elements that were inspired by them were willing to burn the mother fuckers down AND THAT IS WHAT THE POWER STRUCTURE UNDERSTANDS!

            The power structure just sent in the army against MLK and the “we shall overcome” crowd. Violence is condoned by the power structure.

            Changed didn’t start to happen until the forces of the Violent Response changed the rules and when the Blacks were willing to burn down their cities the power structure took notice and change in order to calm down the situation.

            This has to happen again and the power structure knows it. Why do you think they are arming the police with military gear?

            There is going to be a show down soon.

            Tubularsock doesn’t like the idea of violence but if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck …………

  6. Robert as our current society marches on, the Constitution and D of I become more convoluted and once what was is becoming distorted into an empty illusion.

    Pretty to talk about but not a protection.

    It is true that the final nails aren’t in place yet but a police state is on the horizon. “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.” (B. Dylan)

    You ask, “should we discard them?” and we both do agree that we shouldn’t but the protection of both will not happen at a ballot box. And I would be very happy if I’m wrong but I don’t see any convincing signs.

    The Patriot Act has seen to that and the courts are swinging on board. And public pressure is extremely weak because the message for awareness is controlled by “a free press” which is corporate run.

    Those that control the message controls the thought pattern and directs that thought pattern toward one of slavery rather than freedom. Capitalist slavery!

    The White House Press Corps is a prime example of a group of supposed “professional journalists” who do everything except ask any real questions about anything. They are simply tools of the state not 4th Estate protectors!

    Couple that with the influence by the CIA paying “journalists” to plant the “accepted position” of foreign policy with the new contractual agreement between Jeff Bezos/Amazon’s CEO and the CIA at the same time being owner of the Washington Post which is part of that “free press” and you have just the tip of the corruption of thought in this country.

    I have no issue with democracy, my issue is with the lack of it.

    You have Obummer yesterday announce his fake “reforms” to reign in the NSA by as the NY Times indicated “largely codifying existing practices”.

    The polls in November indicated that only 11% of Americans expected Obommer to reign in the NSA (which is even too high for Tubularsock …. just how dumb are they?) but it goes to show you that even when the citizens know he won’t do anything they still have no power over him taking away their freedom!

    You are correct that the rigged system isn’t the result of democracy but the results of the opponents of democracy and how do you suppose that can change? By voting while the oligarchs and the plutocrats count the results? Come now.

    If it makes you feel better to go through the act of voting, by all means. They vote in China and Russia too. Those who counts the vote ….. win. Funny how that works.

    I vote because I live in an initiative state so I have a chance to influence things locally but on the national level with a two party system which is really only one party with the ability to keep out any “outside” party from participating (from even debating) the term democracy becomes a joke!

    Gosh, lets all go and vote to change that ………. sure.

    I have no disagreement with non-violence as an influence for I was there myself. But the threat of extreme violence was a powerful backdrop and remains the same today.

    The beauty of the “I have a dream” can not be held out as the only thing that was occurring at the time. There were forces that threatened, that presented a fear of an out of control violence that was duly noted by the power structure. Burn Baby Burn.

    And in any mass movement there are always government agent provocateurs as well as others who want to stir up trouble and during that time the segregationists were not the only folks with that agenda but they too were involved.

    Now Anarchy is very complex and it is not only about destruction. It all depends on what philosophical avenue one wishes to travel. There are both violent as well as non-violent anarchists.

    Anarchists believe that “the state” is “immoral” and must be replaced with a stateless society based on a non-hierarchical voluntary associations. But the way to achieve it varies.

    But that is a subject for another time. And I’m not an anarchist by the way. I just see the direction we are headed and when the pot is on simmer we can discuss voting and ballot boxes. When the pot is boiling the issues become a bit more rushed. And when the pot boils over all bets are off.

    Obummer was really the last best hope for change (even if it was a lie ……. one I never fell for) but all he was was the foil. The progressives fell in line and many still are trying to “believe”. As I said before he in a Black puppet in white face dancing from a stick held by the White cooperate masters. And as we have seen he is great at say’en ….. yes’em massa’

    It is a sad day for democracy.

    • I agree with Robert that the most important work toward change, and the most effective, has been non-violent. I’d like to add to that list of activists Rachel Carson, who’s book “Silent Spring” practically created the environmental movement single-handedly. She wasn’t the first person to tell us that pollution and pesticides are a threat to human and environmental health, but her work was what catapulted these concepts into a national discussion and movement. She did all this through BOOKS and RESEARCH, not anarchy!

      Speaking of anarchy and violent movements, I agree with Robert that such movements rarely produce real, lasting, and positive change. On top of that, I think that the US govt is far too powerful and stable to be overthrown any time soon by any violent means. In fact, the most fundamental and transformative changes were made by the likes of our peaceful acivists. Look at what MLK did- he and his supporters changed a social and political system that seemed at the time impossible to change. Who would have thought that slaves would be able to vote? He did that- American slavery lasted for centuries and was a deeply entrenched part of our culture, yet now, as a black woman, I vote, go to school, and can go to the same places and use the same facilities as white people. And now we have a president of color!! Who could have thought all that was ever possible? MLK is the PERFECT example of change!

      By the way, you say that you are not an anarchist, but that you don’t advocate that we do nothing. You also say that voting doesn’t help, either. So what do you do to create change? At the end of the day, talking the talk isn’t enough. Blogging is very important, but what else have you been doing to address what is wrong with society and govt? The tone of your blog and your comments suggest to me that you think change is impossible, so why bother. So what would you have us do?

    • Dare I also say that it is because of our system of govt, flaws and all, that non-violent change has a chance at making a difference. There may be nations where, in order for change to happen, violence is necessary, though I’m not certain of any such places. I don’t profess to know how the whole world can be changed, but I know that America can be changed.

    • Good discussion, Tube and Tanya. I don’t have much to add other than a quick comment about a “stateless society based on a non-hierarchical voluntary associations.”

      Social organization using that structure in today’s complex, diverse, and overstretched world, is a logistical impossibility. It requires a level of cooperation far beyond the current state of humanity. Except for small communal arrangements between like-minded individuals, no such system has ever existed. Even the fledgling U.S. under the Articles of Confederation, which had no significant central government, failed miserably in a very short time. Libertarians, who wish to either eviscerate or eliminate the federal government, are often surprised by this fact.


      • I TOTALLY agree, Robert. Humans have never been able to have the stateless society Tube dreams of. It’s just not how the human brain works. There will always be leaders and followers. There are even animal communities that inevitably work the same way- wolves, monkeys, etc. Many animals, including ourselves, naturally tend to create such hierarchy-based community structures.

  7. Tanya, let Tubularsock clear a couple of things up that seem to have been lost in translation. First Tubularsock never stated that he “dreams” of a stateless society.

    Just to set the record straight the reference to that belief of Anarchists’ was only used as an example to counter Robert’s statement that “Anarchy, however well intentioned, does not offer solutions… only destruction.” As I was clear in stating, Tubularsock is not an anarchist.

    As for “violent movements . . . rarely produce real, lasting, and positive change” is not true. The American, French, Cuban, Russian, and Chinese Revolutions all did. All improved what had come before. Perhaps not to some peoples liking but better than what came before.

    Now in response to your question, “. . . what else have you been doing to address what is wrong with society and govt?”

    Most recently I’ve been involved in the Occupy Movement. But my starting point goes back to the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement, the farm labor movement and the radical environmental movement. I have been working at many levels over the last fifty years at changing our society to live up to its promise of justice and equality and I will continue to do it.

    And yes, as I stated I even vote but my issue with voting is that it is the weakest in the link of true change. Americans have been lead to believe that voting is some kind of special formula of change. That if they vote that is all a citizen has to do to be represented! They have been lulled to sleep with it.

    As we have clearly seen …….. it is all in who counts the ballots NOT who votes!

    Real change is formulated in the streets and until that happens change for the better will not take place in this country. How you do that in a complacent society has always been the major setback.

    I’m not a violent person in general and have spent a great deal of time instructing protestor on the art of non-violent actions in response to police violence in order to protect themselves.

    However I’m not adversed to violent response if a situation calls for it.

    The anger and cynicism that appears in many of my blog posts are a result of my frustration at the stupidity and lack of understanding of the American public in general.

    As I always say when asked, “why do you blog” …….. it seems healthier than strapping on a suicide belt and throwing myself into the nearest government building!

    Thank you Tanya, I really like your blog and the subjects that you cover and thank you Robert for your input and engaging opinions. Hope to do it again in the future.

    • I’m very glad that you are active in trying to create change in society through activism work such as Occupy! From the way you talk, though, I wouldn’t have guessed that. You’ve sounded more like someone who has given up thinking that things can change, but maybe you just needed to be reminded that you haven’t given up! I think that if we bloggers present people with opportunities/choices/ideas for how to change the things they don’t like, more people will be likely to act (I hope, anyway). That’s why I tend to promote such ideas on my blog.

      I’m probably much younger than you (you mentioned in your post about that war movie that your kids are grown) and I know I have a lot to learn about the world, but I really think that US problems can be changed through activism and the average person just being more aware. As for violent means, it of course worked in America, but I don’t think another violent revolution would work, nor is it needed. Maybe in other countries, who knows. People in other places have to decide what’s going to work for them.

      I read your blog because I learn a lot from it, though our blogs differ a bit in tone. But that’s okay. We’re both trying to inform the public, a task sorely needed these days.

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