These Journalists Laugh at Your Puny Health Insurance Policy Cancellations


Insert "press gaggle" joke here. Also, this really does come from the White House press shop. ||| White House
White House

Yesterday, I wrote about how President Barack Obama's approach toward journalists while selling the Affordable Care Act has arguably amounted to "working the refs." But there are some professional truth-slingers who require no extra nudge–they're here to tell you that Obamacare critics are all wet, that maybe the president went a wee bit too far with that whole you-can-keep-it stuff, but that the more important thing is that these aren't the health plans you were looking for.

Here's a sampling from the genre; bolding is mine to emphasize apologia for presidential mendacity and other WTFery:

David Firestone, New York Times, "The Uproar Over Insurance 'Cancellation' Notices":

Most lawmakers mentioned President Obama's unfortunate blanket statement that all Americans would be allowed to keep their insurance policies if they liked them. He failed to make an exception for inadequate policies that don't meet the new minimum standards. […]

The so-called cancellation letters waved around at yesterday's hearing were simply notices that policies would have to be upgraded or changed. Some of those old policies were so full of holes that they didn't include hospitalization, or maternity care, or coverage of other serious conditions.

Republicans were apparently furious that government would dare intrude on an insurance company's freedom to offer a terrible product to desperate people. […]

Luckily, a comprehensive and affordable insurance policy is…now a basic right….Ms. Sebelius never lost her cool in three-and-a-half hours of testimony, perhaps because she knows that once the computer problems and the bellowing die down, the country will be far better off.

Pssst! Hiltzik! That box to your right! ||| White House
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Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Obamacare hysteria: Don't believe the canceled insurance hype":  

We're supposed to be scandalized by this, since President Obama himself assured everyone that if they liked their insurance they'd be able to keep it. […]

Back in March, Consumer Reports published a study of many of these plans and placed them in a special category: "junk health insurance." Some plans, the magazine declared, may be worse than none at all. […]

It's time to tamp down the breathless indignation about these health plan cancellations. Many of the departing plans are being outlawed for good reason, and many of the customers losing them have no idea how much financial exposure they were saddled with in the old days. That's the real scandal in American health insurance, and Obamacare is designed, rightly, to fix it.

I prefer his early work. |||

Henry J. Aaron, New York Daily News, "The truth about those Obamacare coverage letters":

Of late, numerous reports have told of people surprised by letters telling them that insurance plans they now have will not be renewed. Many are puzzled. Weren't they told that if they like their insurance they could keep it? Opponents of health reform in general are seizing on the fact and asking in an accusatorial manner: "Isn't this a betrayal of trust?"

No. […]

[Obamacare] bars certain common practices of insurance companies that most people find unacceptable at best, outrageous at worst. […]

People should be no more shocked when substandard insurance plans are removed from the market than they would be if food purity legislation caused some products to be removed from a grocer's shelf. Obamacare is removing insurance products from the market that are bad for your health.

"Terrible" insurance products that are "bad for your health" and being "outlawed for good reason"? You might want to ask Robert Laszewski about that.

Read Peter Suderman for more on how "The Obama Administration's Response to Insurance Plan Cancellations Is Misleading and Condescending." An excerpt from that:

The argument here, essentially, is that anyone whose plan gets canceled didn't really like his or her plan—that, even though the beneficiary might not know it, the plan being canceled wasn't worth having anyway.

It's a fundamentally condescending argument that makes a blanket assumption that people don't know whether or not they liked their plan. It's also a bunch of nonsense.

The administration can't possibly know what sort of insurance each and every individual likes or wants, and it can't account for the people who are losing plans that clearly did meet the needs of the individuals who purchased them.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto has a piece making similar points to mine, and with more examples worth reading.