Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

November 2, 2013

Fact Check: Pulling plug on existing health care plan

The White House has been on the defensive recently over its claim, repeated numerous times over the years, that under President Barack Obama’s health care law, if you like your health plan, you can keep it.

His claim hasn’t worn well amid the letters to hundreds of thousands of Americans with individually purchased insurance plans notifying them that their plans are being canceled. Typically, these policies no longer meet the requirements in Obama’s law, such as the need to cover emergency care, maternity care, mental health or prescription drugs.

In August 2012, we gave a Half True to Obama’s claim that “if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.” A more careful phrasing— former Obama adviser David Axelrod’s claim that “the vast majority of people in this country are keeping their (health insurance) plan”— recently earned a Mostly True rating.

But critics of the law have been on the attack about what they call Obama’s broken promise. Defending the law, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett sent out this message via Twitter on Oct. 28, 2013:

Fact: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans.”

Is it really a “fact” that “nothing in Obamacare forces people out of their health plans”?

The White House appears to think so. Asked about Jarrett’s tweet at a White House press briefing the following day, Press Secretary Jay Carney backed up her view that it’s the insurers’ fault — not the administration’s — if plans are being canceled.

It’s insurers who are choosing to close plans, Carney said, noting that “the administration doesn’t step in” to force cancellations. Instead, he said, “the insurer is making a decision to basically cancel the plan and reissue or offer the individual a new plan with different benefits or different costs.”

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