Cooper: If you like your plan, you have to change it

Cooper: If you like your plan, you have to change it

October 13th, 2015 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

The Chattanooga headquarters of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is shown in an aerial view.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee isn't the first to do it and won't be the last. But its announcement last week that many people who purchased the company's health insurance plans before the advent of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) now will have to buy new plans continues the lies told by the Obama administration with the passage of its health care law.

Oh, the Tennessee insurer is well within its rights under the law to force such a change on those enrollees who were previously grandfathered in, and from a business sense it's understandable the company would not want to continue to "support essentially two individual markets under different sets of coverage requirements," as a spokeswoman said.

But that isn't how the law was "sold" in 2010, when Obama and other supporters assured the American people if they liked their health care plan, they could keep it. The president publicly made such a statement at least 37 times, according to Politfact.

One of the last times the president used such a phrase, to a meeting of Organizing for Action in 2013, he threw in a new wrinkle, and that's the one that's caught so many policy holders. At that time, he said, " what we said was you can keep it if it hasn't changed since the law passed."

Of course, Obama hadn't said that before, but the law does say the plans can lose their grandfathered status if costs or benefits changed significantly.

BlueCross had the option to continue the plans, but the premiums would increased substantially. In addition, the plans would not have the most desired benefits — such as no lifetime maximum of payments and a child being able to remain on a parent's plan until age 26 — and they did not have the ACA's tax credits.

What BlueCross did, like so many insurers before it and like so many will after it, is just what the Obama administration wanted and expected. No insurer competing against goody-laden plans constructed by the federal government, or against tax credits given by the same government, would be able to sustain the same number of enrollees. So it is terminating the plans.

That's because of the law of supply and demand. If an insurance company offers the same coverage for fewer people, the cost of plans would be expected to rise. The administration's long-range hope, of course, is that because of the higher price of private insurance more and more people will want its sponsored, tax-credited plans and eventually demand an entirely government-run program.

Before that happens, we should listen to the voices of reason that predicted each of the steps that have happened and take preventive measures.

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