By Mary Johnson
The Obama Administration and proponents of Obamacare have continued to downplay the cancellations of the health insurance of 4.7 million individual policy-holders (including yours truly) who received notices that our polices would be ending in 2014 because they didn’t comply with the new healthcare law. I was able to temporarily renew my so-called "junk policy." I wanted to keep it because my deductible is 50% lower than the lowest deductible found on any comparable policy in my area on the Healthcare.gov exchange, and my current plan has a much less restrictive provider network. Most importantly my premium is about 60% lower than I would pay on the exchange, that’s after the subsidy.
Nevertheless, Senate Leader Harry Reid recently went as far as to imply that people like me are lying, saying that "There are plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue, but they’re being told all over America." But I'm not making this up. I take this information directly from the government's own Healthcare.gov website.
Now it seems that the cancelled policies and the number of people affected by them are beginning to have an effect on the Administration and Members of Congress concerned about the November elections. The Obama Administration recently announced that individual health policies, that were supposed to end in 2014 because they aren't compliant, may remain in force another two years, if states allows it.
The move is undoubtedly an attempt to head off political fall-out from what is turning into a major issue with senior voters in 2014 — President Obama's broken promise, "If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan." According to a recent TSCL poll, 58% of seniors say that they are worried that their health plan could be cancelled this year. Seniors aren't the only ones who are worried — so are Members of Congress — from both sides of the aisle.
While seniors with Medicare aren't required to have an Obamacare health plan, they have worries too. Obamacare cut Medicare by more than $700 billion over ten years, and that’s starting to impact seniors age 65 and older. In particular, the law cut reimbursements to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans by $156 billion.
House leaders and a bipartisan group of 40 senators recently sent a letters to President Obama, and Medicare's Administrator, Marilyn Tavenner, expressing serious concerns about the impact of Obamacare cuts. "These cuts, in addition to proposed rules issued by CMS, will force millions of American seniors to face higher health care costs or lose access to their doctor, health plan, lifesaving drugs, and the benefits they’ve come to rely on," House leaders wrote. The Senate letter stated, "We urge you to maintain payment levels that will allow MA beneficiaries to be protected from disruptive changes in 2015."
About 28% of all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans. United Health Care, the largest Medicare Advantage insurer in the nation, recently dramatically cut the number of doctors in its plans this year. TSCL remains highly concerned that more plans will follow suit next year as successive cuts kick in.
I'm interested in hearing about your experiences with Medicare and Obamacare. What is working the way it should? What isn't? Send an email with "Obamacare, No Lie!" in the subject line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources: "Obamacare Victims Are 'Liars' Says Top Democrat," Edward Morrissey, The Fiscal Times, February 27, 2014. Letter to The President, from House leadership, concerning Medicare Advantage cuts, February 13, 2014. Letter to Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, from 40 Senators, concerning Medicare Advantage cuts, February 14, 2014.