Asked Whether ‘If You Like Your Insurance, You Can Keep It’ Was True, CMS Head Punts

‘Some insurance companies have decided ... that they want to offer new plans’

TAVENNER: “I'm participating in employer-sponsored insurance which…”
CAMP: “Government …”
TAVENNER: “85 percent of the country does.”
CAMP: “So you have government insurance. So you're not -- have you gone on the site and tried to enroll or tried to shop for plans?”
TAVENNER: “I haven't gone on to shop for the plans. I went on and actually signed up for an account just to see what it looked like and go through the application process but did not sign up for coverage. I'm not eligible for coverage, nor did I shop.”
CAMP: “Um, I just want to mention to you a letter that I received from my district, and this man wrote me and said, ‘My wife has been recently informed by her insurance carrier that her health care policy does not comply with the Affordable Care Act. Now we must purchase a new policy to get the same coverage at an 18 percent increase in our premium.’ So what happened to the if you like your insurance you can keep it question? What would you say to that individual?”
TAVENNER: “Well, I would take him back to pre-Affordable Care Act days where, in fact, if you were in the individual market, you were living at a 50 percent churn. Half the people in the individual market prior to 2010 didn't stay on their policies. They were either kicked off for pre-existing condition, they saw their premiums go up at least 20 percent a year, and there were no protections for them, and sometimes they were in plans that they thought were fine until they actually needed hospitalization, then they found out it didn't cover hospitalization, or it didn't cover cancer. So I would take them back to the fact that since 1986 their health care costs and coverage have been the number one issue for small businesses for the last 20 to 30 years and we've been talking about it for the last 20 or 30 years. That's actually why I came into this job was to try to deal with this issue. So now what I would say is this: now if, in fact, the issuer has decided to change the plan, didn't have to. Plans were grandfathered in in 2010. If they didn't make significant changes in cost sharing and this sort of thing, they could keep the plan that they had. But some insurance companies have decided, and I think that's what you were referring to in your opening statement, that they want to offer new plans. And if they offer new plans, they have to come into the requirements of the Affordable Care Act which are you have to offer the ten essential coverage benefits, you cannot judge people on pre-existing, you cannot discriminate based on sex. There are lots of things that are required under the Affordable Care Act that actually protect consumers. But these premium increases were going on long time prior to the Affordable Care Act and, in fact, we've seen the most premium moderation in the last three years than we've seen probably in 15 or 20 years. So that’s what I would say to them. I’d try to explain to them the real issues.”

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