Free Market Fundamentalist Opinion

Obama Lied: Not All Americans Can Keep Their Health Insurance

The president should have known some Americans would be forced to find new coverage.

President Barack Obama delivers a speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 22, 2012
President Barack Obama delivers a speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 22, 2012 (Obama for America/Josh Burstein)

When President Barack Obama promised in June 2009, while his signature health reforms were being written, and again in April 2010, after he had signed them into law, that Americans who liked their insurance would be able to “keep it” — adding, for good measure, on the last occasion, “No one will be able to take that away from you.” — it was clear to critics he was lying.

More than three years later and just a month after “Obamacare” went into effect, it should be clear to the whole country.

CBS News reports that up to two million Americans might have to find new health insurance as the coverage they have now doesn’t meet the law’s criteria.

I hinted at this in a blog post last year when I pointed out that one of the reasons medical insurance is so expensive across the United States is that many state governments mandate that insurance companies cover all sorts of treatments that consumers may not require or wish to buy, including prenatal and psychiatric care. In most states, it was already impossible for a person to insure himself again medical catastrophe alone.

“With Obamacare, it will be impossible across the country,” I warned, “because it, too, forces insurers to offer a basic plan that covers ambulatory services, hospitalization, maternity and mental health care as well as rehabilitative services.” And added, “Health insurance costs can only rise as a consequence.”

When insurers are forced to cover more types of health care, and cannot discriminate anymore against customers who are already ill, insurance becomes more expensive. Companies pass those costs onto their customers. There is, after all, no competition anymore from companies that offer leaner plans — or “substandard plans,” as Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney put it this week. The government now dictates what sort of health insurance Americans ought to have and it ought to be the same for everyone.

It’s not as if the president wasn’t aware of this. When his health reforms were being written, the Congressional Budget Office warned that as many as ten million Americans might have to find new health insurance as a consequence of the minimum standards they introduced.

Republican congressman Tom Price of Georgia, a doctor, warned in late 2009 that “within five years, every health-care plan will have to meet a new federal definition for coverage, one that your current plan might not match, even if you like it.” It was another reason for Republicans to oppose the law.

On top of that, Americans who get insurance through their employers might lose it as companies scale down their plans to cope with rising costs or change their employers’ contracts to avoid having to buy insurance for them at all.

Again, the president could have seen this coming. He was warned about it time and again by critics of his health-care law. So why the lies?