If you tried to get precise numbers about the late 2013 “plan cancellation” imbroglio, you’ll know it was extremely difficult.
No one really was sure about how many plans were canceled, how many would have been canceled even without the Affordable Care Act (there is a lot of “churn” in this market but not a lot of great recent statistics – much of it dates from 2003-04), how many people were quickly rolled into another plan offered by their insurer or how many had a higher sticker price for the new plan but were subsidized in the exchanges, etc.
The political climate – because critics of the ACA were very adept at highlighting unhappy “victims of Obamacare” – made it more difficult. And the fact that the federal HealthCare.gov enrollment site and several of the state exchanges were not working well at the time this all exploded added to the negative narrative. People receiving a plan cancellation letter, who were being told it was purely because of the health law and who couldn’t get online to check out other options were understandably anxious about ending up with no coverage. Continue reading
Michael Hiltzik (@hiltzikm) of the Los Angeles Times has done some fine reporting about the bottom line on the health insurance cancellations.
In this piece, he reminds us that, until this wave of headlines about people losing their beloved individual health policies, people hated their individual health policies. Prices rose every year, benefits were skimpier than employer-sponsored coverage, there were lots of out-of-pocket costs, people got dropped from plans – and people who had pre-existing conditions couldn’t get plans.
“It’s time to retire the threadbare meme that the cancellation notices are depriving people of something they love, as though their health plans are as much as part of the family as the dog,” he wrote in what may be my single favorite sentence in a health care story of the past few weeks. Continue reading
A few weeks into the cancellation crisis – some of which could be mitigated by the delay President Obama just announced – here’s what we know and what we don’t. In an upcoming post, I’ll highlight two very good stories exploring aspects of this.
The estimates on how many people are affected by plan cancellations vary widely. We’ve seen anything from “hundreds of thousands,” which is too low, to “up to 14 million,” which is too high. Continue reading