Fox News misleadingly implied the Obama administration was at fault for not allowing people to keep their health insurance policies indefinitely, while hiding the fact that health insurance companies routinely alter consumer's plans every year.
Fox Blames Obama Administration For Not Allowing Indefinite Extension Of Dropped Plans
Fox Guest Attacks Obama Admin For Only Extending Current Insurance Policies For One Year. On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade hosted former health insurance agent C. Edmund Wright, who claimed that the Obama administration was harming individuals by not allowing them to keep their insurance policies indefinitely, and claimed that President Obama's decision to allow insurance companies to extend current plans an additional year amounted to a "one-year death sentence":
KILMEADE: Edmund, first off, the president is going to meet with insurance executives today and urge them to reinstate those who have been canceled for a year. Why isn't this good politics? Why isn't this a good move?
WRIGHT: Well, as I said in the article Brian, and good morning, you know, what he said was you can keep your policy if you like it for, you know, four years, leading into recently. And, what you can really do now with his fix is just rent it, or borrow it, or lease it.
KILMEADE: For a year.
WRIGHT: Right, for one year. It's like, okay, we're canceling the new coke and you can have coke classic but only for a year. It's just an absurd fix. It didn't fix his promise. I think he used the word you can keep it, period. Well, keep it period is not one year. Keep it period means as long as you want it. So he didn't fix his promise nor did he fix the underlying insurance problem because a one-year death sentence on an insurance policy, Brian, that just guarantees that insurers and customers are going to go after each other as hard as they can. We all know people who, you know, brag about screwing their insurance company and we all know people who, you know, get that treatment from the insurance company. Well, with a one-year guaranteed divorce all bets are off after that. It's just not workable. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/20/13]
Majority Change Their Individual Insurance Plans Every Year
Wash. Post: "Health Plans Regularly Take Their Offerings On And Off The Market." The Washington Post's Wonkblog explained President Obama's decision to allow insurance companies to extend previously cancelled policies an additional year, and noted that insurance companies regularly change and cancel policies after one year:
The Obama administration will allow insurance companies to renew policies that do not meet health law standards through the end of 2014, senior White House officials told reporters on a call this morning.
Under the change that the administration is announcing this morning, the hypothetical Americans with a policy that ends in June 2014 would have the option to renew that same plan for one more year, if their insurance company decides to provide that option.
Keep in mind, this change is not ordering insurers to offer their products for another year; health plans regularly take their offerings on and off the market. Instead, it's a very nice ask on the part of the administration, to insurance carriers and regulators, to play ball on this one.
Insurers who do take the White House up on this option would have to do two things: notify consumers of the various health law benefits missing from the plan, and let them know about the other options they would have on the health law's marketplace. [The Washington Post, Wonkblog, 11/14/13]
MSNBC's Steven Rattner: Half Of All Individual Insurance Plans Last Less Than Six Months. On MSNBC's Morning Joe, MSNBC economic analyst and former Obama administration official Steven Rattner explained that half of people on the individual market are there for "less than six months," and another "30 percent are there between six and eighteen months":
RATTNER: Everyone talks about grandfathered, with the idea that they're going to stay in that plan for a long time. In fact, many, most people who goin to the individual market don't stay there very long, at least with their original plan, because, they're often people who are between jobs, orthey're changing jobs, or they get - they're going to take this plan for a little while and then get another plan, and so when you look at this chart you'll see that half of the people in this individual market place, people who are buying their own insurance, are there for less than six months. Another 30 percent are there between six and eighteen months. And so when the president talks about grandfathering people into these plans, it actually isn't going to be for very long, because they're going to leave them of their own accord and do something else. So sooner or later, these people are going to find themselves back in the marketplace looking for insurance, whether or not this grandfathering proposal actually goes forward.
[MSNBC, Morning Joe, 11/20/13]
Wash. Post: Study Shows Only 24 Percent Of Individually Insured People Kept Their Plan For More Than Two Years. The Washington Post's fact checker cited a study that measured insurance plans in California that showed the majority of individual insurance plans are temporary:
A different study of a single state (California), also cited by HHS in the regulations, found that only 24 percent of people with individual coverage kept their plan for more than 48 months. In other words, between 75 and 95 percent of people in the individual market likely never had a chance to get a grandfathered plan. [The Washington Post, The Fact Checker, 11/7/13]
CBO: "Because Of Relatively High Turnover" In Individual Market, Few Plans Would Remain Unchanged By 2016. In a November 2009 letter to former Senator Evan Bayh, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) explained that because of the naturally high turnover in the individual market, few grandfathered policies would still exist by 2016:
Moreover, if they wanted to, current policyholders in the nongroup market would be allowed to keep their policy with no changes, and the premiums for those policies would probably not differ substantially from current-law levels. But because of relatively high turnover in that market (as well as the incentives for many enrollees to purchase a new policy in order to obtain subsidies), CBO and JCT estimate that relatively few nongroup policies would remain grandfathered by 2016. [Congressional Budget Office, 11/30/09]