Like Your Health-Insurance Plan? Great. Keep It! Don't Like It? Too Bad. Keep It!


As Obama has attempted to sell health-care reform to the public this year, one of the key messages has been that those who like their current plans will be able to keep them. One of the main reasons he's emphasized this is that, during the HillaryCare debate in 1994, the fact that many people would have to switch away from their plans proved a major obstacle to reform. Of course, Obama usually omits the fact that those people will only get to keep their plans if their employers continue to offer them, which is a less than sure thing given the structural changes to the insurance system that reformers are proposing but it's certainly more true under current proposals than it was in 1994. 

What Obama doesn't say, however, is that many people who don't like their plans may be forced to stay with them. Mary Agnes Carey and Julie Appleby explain:

Under the main health bills being debated in Congress, many people with job-based insurance could find it difficult to impossible to switch to health plans on a new insurance exchange, even if the plans there were cheaper or offered better coverage. The restrictions extend to any government-run plan, which would be offered on the exchange.

The provisions could change, and there are a few exceptions: Workers would be allowed to buy insurance through the exchange if their job-based coverage gobbled up too much of their incomes or was too skimpy. Also, under the House proposal, people could get insurance through the exchange if they paid their entire premiums— a cost that would be prohibitive for many workers.