President Obama’s promise that “if you like your current coverage you can keep it” was always an obvious lie, and not just because the law was always going to inherently change the small individual market. In a few years the Affordable Care Act will also begin significantly impacting the coverage of many people with employer provided insurance.
People who try to defend Obama’s promise are claiming it does apply perfectly well to the 85 percent of Americans with Medicare, Medicaid and employer-provided insurance. That is only true in the very short term. Eventually, even this very generous interpretation of Obama’s promise will be proven to be an obvious lie.
One of the major provisions in the law is the so-called “Cadillac tax” on employer provided insurance. Basically it caps how much can be spent on employer provided insurance. When this tax goes into effect it will effectively force companies to stop providing their employee with very high quality coverage and instead make employers switch to worse plans with higher co-pays and deductibles. It will force millions of people to lose the great employer provided insurance they currently have and probably like.
This was the explicit purpose of the Cadillac tax. The goal is to increase cost sharing because Obama believes doing so will help “bend the cost curve.” Obama fought to include this provision knowing this would be the result and that it would break his promise.
Now this provision will mostly hurt Americans with good paying jobs and some of this revenue will be used to pay for Medicaid expansion so you can argue it is a net positive for society or smart policy, but there is no denying that Obama knowingly lied about one of the key selling points for the law.
If you have really great employer provided insurance the Affordable Care Act was purposely designed to make sure you wouldn’t be able to keep it.
Official White House photo by Pete Souza