(Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)
President Barack Obama did not lie to the American people when he said people could keep their health insurance under Obamacare if they liked it, says The New York Times. He "clearly misspoke".
Countering multiple media reports last week that pointed out that the Obama administration knew that the health insurance policies of millions of Americans would be cancelled under Obamacare despite the President repeatedly saying they wouldn't, The New York Times editorial board argued in an editorial on Saturday that Mr. Obama only "misspoke."
"Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that. By law, insurers cannot continue to sell policies that don't provide the minimum benefits and consumer protections required as of next year. So they've sent cancellation notices to hundreds of thousands of people who hold these substandard policies," noted the Times.
The editorial called the misunderstanding in how the requirements of the law was conveyed by President Obama an "overblown controversy" while noting that people seem to forget that the law is trying to guarantee health insurance for everyone.
"Indeed, in all the furor, people forget how terrible many of the soon-to-be-abandoned policies were. Some had deductibles as high as $10,000 or $25,000 and required large co-pays after that, and some didn't cover hospital care," noted the Times editorial.
"This overblown controversy has also obscured the crux of what health care reform is trying to do, which is to guarantee that everyone can buy insurance without being turned away or charged exorbitant rates for pre-existing conditions and that everyone can receive benefits that really protect them against financial or medical disaster, not illusory benefits that prove inadequate when a crisis strikes," it continued.
The editorial then goes on to highlight the more comprehensive benefits that insurers will be required to provide under Obamacare.
"Starting next year, all plans sold in this country will be required to provide 10 essential benefits, including some, like mental health and substance abuse treatment and maternity and newborn care, that are not now part of many policies. And premiums may well rise, in part because insurance companies must accept all applicants, not just the healthy," it noted.
It also questioned the wisdom behind efforts by conservative groups to deter enrollment in the health insurance exchanges.
"Some conservative groups, eager to cripple the individual market by deterring enrollment, are urging consumers not to take out insurance and to instead pay the fine, which is cheaper than the cost of insurance but hardly negligible. For individuals, it starts at $95 or 1 percent of applicable yearly income in 2014, whichever is higher, and rises to $695 or 2.5 percent of applicable income in 2016. But why pay the penalty and get nothing when you can pay a reasonable fee and get a good policy?" the editorial ended.