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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by Mr. Obama in 2010. Since then he has assured Americans: “If you like your insurance plan you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future.” But it is happening.

From The New York Times:

[There is a] relatively small part of America that the Obama administration did not talk about while campaigning for the Affordable Care Act: people who have health insurance that they like, but who will be unable to keep it under the law.
 
Now that new insurance marketplaces are opening, insurance companies are canceling millions of individual plans that fail to meet minimum standards. The dropped plans have become the political talking point of the moment — and, according to many Republicans, a symbol of the president’s flawed ambitions.
 
Mr. Obama says that people will be better off in the long run with more robust coverage.
 
The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by Mr. Obama in 2010. Since then he has assured Americans: “If you like your insurance plan you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future.”

But it is happening. It is unclear how many of the estimated 10 million to 12 million people who have individual insurance plans, as opposed to the vast majority who have insurance through their employers, might see their plans discontinued.

Individual plans are typically renewed annually and, even before the law, such plans were usually subject to changes in rates or coverage. Discontinuing plans affect a small minority of Americans, and some people will be grandfathered in.
 
Those in plans that have remained essentially unchanged since the law’s passage can keep their coverage even if it does not meet the new standards, which include coverage for things like prescription drugs, maternity care and even pediatric dental care.
 
But because of the transitory nature of the market — individual insurance often serves as a bridge between jobs, or as a stopgap until government programs like Medicare or Medicaid kick in — many customers have changed plans or bought new coverage since the law was passed.
 
Some insurers are offering to renew existing coverage before 2014. But some people must find an alternative. And some insurers are telling their existing customers about the plans that most closely resemble their current coverage, providing examples of plans that cost about the same or have similar features.
 
Supporters of the law are quick to note that the individual insurance market was an unforgiving place, favoring the healthy with reasonable rates while excluding older people or those with existing medical conditions. Plans must now offer more comprehensive coverage, and insurers must take all comers. Insurers must also charge everyone, healthy or otherwise, the same rates.
 
Still, many people were surprised by how the law could affect them. Some said they felt betrayed, given that the president pledged that people could keep their insurance plans. 

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