The Common Good

Gimme That Old-Time Health Insurance ...

Yes, President Obama said that if we like our health insurance, we can keep it. 

Yes, that turned out to be false for a few million people.

Yes, the president chose his words poorly. Whether or not health reform became the law of the land, there’s no way any president could have known if we’d be able to keep our health insurance from one year to the next.

And with the changes mandated by the Affordable Care Act, insurance continuity would be even more of a crap shoot. Companies would tinker with benefits and prices in hopes of keeping the cash flowing after the reforms kicked in. They would certainly cut unprofitable policies or raise their prices stratospherically, or both. This was happening long before Obama took office; surely it would happen even more as insurance companies were required to, well, insure people.

So President Obama should not have made a promise he couldn’t keep.

However, I don’t think the president intentionally lied. I don't think he was naïve about insurance companies. I think he was naïve about Americans. I suspect he had no idea that so many Americans would actually like and want to keep those individual policies that: 

  • cost significantly more than work-based policies 
  • hire people for the express purpose of finding trivial reasons to deny payment on claims
  • respond to claims by shutting down people’s policies or raising their prices way beyond affordability
  • refuse to insure people with any pre-existing conditions (e.g., people who have been kicked off their previous policies because they actually had to use them)
  • set limits on how much they will pay that are way lower than the cost of treating most serious illnesses

And that pretty much describes most of the policies that have shut down as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Oh, how they will be missed.

LaVonne Neff is an amateur theologian and cook; lover of language and travel; wife, mother, grandmother, godmother, dogmother; perpetual student, constant reader, and Christian contrarian. She blogs at Lively Dust and reviews books for various magazines.

Photo: Kentoh/Shutterstock

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