Time magazine's Kate Pickert was unfazed by the revelation that President Obama lied to the American people when he promised that folks would be able to keep their existing insurance plans.
Sure, "President Obama has broken his promise that Americans who like their health insurance plans can keep them under the Affordable Care Act," Pickert offered in her Monday evening post, "The Bright Side of Obamacare's Broken Promise," "[b]ut the truth is that only a small percentage of Americans will have their health insurance choices narrowed because of the ACA." What's more, Pickert insisted, the plan that folks will have to buy (quite often at an inflated cost over the plans they liked but lost) will be better, because, well, the government is mandating all sorts of new, costly goodies in them:
Obama’s promise of coverage continuity has been broken for those who currently buy private plans on the open market, but many may be better off. The individual health insurance plans being cancelled this fall are generally being discontinued because they do not meet new ACA standards for insurance. The law requires that plans cover a package of what the federal government defines as “essential health benefits.” These include basic categories of care, including hospitalization, emergency care, maternity services, mental health services and prescription drugs. The law also limits out-of-pocket spending and bans insurers from setting various annual and lifetime limits on coverage. (To balance the increased cost of covering these services, some insurers have narrowed the provider networks for plans being offered under the ACA.)
These new standards will lead to more comprehensive coverage for many people. Previously, many plans sold on the open market offered coverage so skimpy that it did not protect consumers from financial ruin. More than 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2007 were due to medical bills. Of those who declared bankruptcy due to medical costs, about three-quarters had health insurance.
As the law’s proponents are fond of noting, in many cases, more expensive coverage will actually cost the same or less than less comprehensive plans offered in the past. Those purchasing coverage on their own through the law’s insurance exchanges will be eligible for new federal subsidies if their earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, about $46,000 for an individual and $95,000 for a family of four.
According to Pickert, folks who are losing their health insurance and having to pay through the nose for new coverage that is more comprehensive -- even if they would be perfectly happy without it -- should be thanking the president for restricting their economic freedom in the name of boosting their health coverage.
Let's explore the stupidity of Pickert's argument by an analogy. If Obama and liberal Democrats did with cell phones and other consumer electronics what they've done with health care, it's doubtful the liberal media could find such a way to spin for him.
Suppose instead of health care, the president gave America the Affordable Cell Phone Communications Act (ACPCA) -- nicknamed ObamaPhone -- promising folks, "if you like your wireless plan, you can keep it," but breaking that promise by pushing folks off of pre-paid bare-bones data plans on dumbphones and into monthly-billed, data-heavy smartphone plans. Also assume the ACPCA mandated every American own a cell phone -- or else pay a fine justified as a "tax" by the Supreme Court -- and that folks had to go through a buggy federal website to shop for a phone and phone plan.
The problem with ObamaCare is not simply a buggy website or broken presidential campaign promises: it's the economically bankrupt command-and-control model behind the health care overhaul. Rather than empowering consumers and opening the market to greater variety of providers and insurance packages, ObamaCare took an already heavily-regulated health insurance market and made matters incredibly worse, not just for insurance providers but ultimately for their customers and inevitably the taxpayer.
Until liberal journalists like Pickert realize that, however, they will continue to phone it in with excuse-making pablum that should be the province of Obama PR flaks and surrogates.