If You Like Your Insurance You Can Keep It? Not Necessarily, WH Now Admits

By Susan Jones | October 29, 2013 | 6:52 AM EDT

President Barack Obama fist pumps with a health-care professional at the White House on March 3, 2010. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)

(CNSNews.com) - The White House admitted on Monday that if you like your health insurance plan, you may not be able to keep it, despite President Obama's many assurances to the contrary.

And NBC News reported that the administration has known for three years that millions of Americans would lose their insurance under Obamacare.

Spokesman Jay Carney on Monday said health care plans that don't meet minimum standards set by the government will go away.

"What the president said, and what everybody said all along, is that there are going to be changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act to create minimum standards of coverage, minimum services that every insurance plan has to provide, so that an individual shopping for insurance, you know, when he or she purchases that insurance, knows that maternity care is covered, that preventive services are covered, that mental health services are covered, that the insurance policy you buy doesn't have an annual limit or a lifetime limit, that there are out-of- pocket expenses capped at a maximum level, both annually and for a lifetime.

"So it's true that there are existing healthcare plans on the individual market that don't meet those minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act."

Carney noted that some plans will be "grandfathered" -- "if people want to keep insurance that's substandard."

But under regulations issued by the Health and Human Services Department, plans that don't meet certain standards will be grandfathered only if they've made no significant changes (to deductibles, co-pays, or benefits) since the law took effect in March 2010.

NBC News reported on Monday that the Obama administration has known for at least three years that millions of Americans will lose the health insurance they now have because of Obamacare.

"Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a 'cancellation' letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law," Lisa Myers reported "One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience sticker shock.”

NBC also reported that Obamacare regulations issued in July 2010 -- more than three years ago -- estimated that “40 to 67 percent” of customers would not be able to keep their health insurance policies.

Carney emphasized on Monday that the insurance sold through the health care exchanges "is qualitatively better insurance coverage than what was available, in many cases, to Americans around the country."

Pressed on President Obama's repeated assurances that people who like  their health insurance plan will be able to keep it, Carney said, "It's correct that substandard plans that don't provide minimum services, that have a lot of -- some fine print that leaves consumers in the lurch often because of annual caps or lifetime caps or, you know, carve-outs for some pre-existing conditions -- those are no longer allowed because the Affordable Care Act is built on the premise that health care is not a privilege, it's a right, and there should be minimum standards for the plans available to Americans across the country."

Carney reminded reporters that "nearly 50 percent of the people we're talking about here" (those who will lose the insurance they have now) would qualify for a subsidy on the health care exchanges.

"[T]he fact of the matter is, millions of Americans are going to have available to them insurance coverage that they have never had and quality insurance that they've never had, insurance coverage that does not either, you know, contain within it caps on your annual expenses that you missed in the small print or caps on your lifetime expenses or that covers mental health services rather than refuses to cover it or provides -- you know, doesn't charge women double, which has often been the case, and you know, provides maternity coverage as a basic element of even the lowest-level plans under the Affordable Care Act."

Asked what percentage of individuals on the individual market will lose their current insurance, Carney refered the question to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"Again, I think that insurance companies that have existing products that do not meet minimum standards obviously cannot -- those products are not -- they don't fit under the Affordable Care Act anymore."

On Monday, the White House website carried a banner reading, "The Affordable Care Act means better coverage for those who already have health insurance, and more options for those who don’t." It said nothing about "if you like your insurance, you can keep it."