Get ready for the "OMG!! GAZILLIONS OF POLICIES CANCELLED!!!" Freakout, Part 2

Hat Tip To: 
Dee

There's nothing wrong with reminding people about this, but I'm pretty disappointed with both the author as well as PBS for treating this as if it's a "surprise" or something unexpected:

Consumers may soon find a surprise in their mailbox: a notice that their health plan is being canceled.

Last year, many consumers who thought their health plans would be canceled because they didn’t meet the standards of the health law got a reprieve. Following stinging criticism for appearing to renege on a promise that people who liked their existing plans could keep them, President Barack Obama backed off plans to require all individual and small group plans that had not been in place before the health law to meet new standards starting in 2014.

In other words:

  • Many private insurance policies nationwide still aren't compliant with minimum ACA regulations, which the insurance companies had known would be required for 3 years.
  • Some brought theirs up to code by the deadline of 1/1/14, others didn't.
  • Last fall, those who had non-compliant policies (including myself) received notices that their policies weren't compliant, so they were being discontinued, with the option to replace it with a new policy which is compliant.
  • People completely spazzed out over something which, while somewhat irritating, wasn't exactly the end of the world either. The main fuel for the reaction was President Obama's now-infamous "if you like your plan you can keep it" statement, which was admittedly a rather stupid thing to say, because even if the law itself did allow everyone to keep their existing policies, there was nothing preventing the insurance companies from discontinuing offering those policies for any number of unrelated reasons (What if they got bought out by another company? What if they went bankrupt? Etc.)
  • Obama and HHS, feeling the heat, made a policy change allowing individual states to decide whether to allow insurance companies to extend their non-compliant policies for up to 3 more years. Some did, some didn't.
  • So now, a year later, some of those extended policies are once again set for discontinuation.

I honestly don't see why this is surprising anyone. The full name of the law is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Most of the focus (including by myself) has been on the "Affordable Care" part, but the "Patient Protection" part is just as important. The law serves two main functions: Covering as many people as possible, and making sure that coverage is comprehensive (hospitalization, surgery, long-term care, etc). The "cancelled / replaced" policies part of the law addresses the latter.

Of course, between President Obama's "you can keep it" blunder and the endless litany of lies spewed by the GOP about the law ("death panels", etc.), it's not surprising that millions of people still don't have a clue about how the law works.

In any event, you can expect a slew of new "OMG!! X MILLION POLICIES CANCELLED!!" attacks this fall as well...just before the midterms. It's not so much that this is false--some policies will be cancelled--as heavily exaggerated, along with the "impact" of those cancellations (most people will do exactly what my wife and I did...simply replace the old policy which isn't compliant...with a new one which is compliant and offers more comprehensive coverage...in many cases at a much lower rate after tax credits are applied, as long as they enroll via the ACA exchange instead of directly via the company).

Remember that when you start seeing the campaign attack ads with absurdly ominous music playing over black-and-white footage of someone reaching into the mailbox and pulling out...a notice from their insurance company (DUN-dun-dunnnnn...).