Skip to main content

A canceled health plan is a good thing

By Sally Kohn, Special to CNN
updated 3:36 PM EDT, Tue October 29, 2013
Marilyn Tavenner testified before Congress on Tuesday about the health care exchange website.
Marilyn Tavenner testified before Congress on Tuesday about the health care exchange website.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sally Kohn: Conservatives feign shock that White House knew some plans would be canceled
  • Kohn: It's because they don't meet Obamacare's higher bar of quality benefits
  • If you lose your plan, she says, you'll have access to better and often cheaper plans
  • Kohn: Most get insurance from jobs; millions who don't will get affordable plans

Editor's note: Sally Kohn is a progressive activist, columnist and television commentator. Follow her on Twitter at @sallykohn.

(CNN) -- Conservatives are expressing shock and outrage that the Obama administration knew that many people in the individual insurance market would not be able to keep their plans once the Affordable Care Act took effect. Such shock is not surprising; overblown outrage is the stock and trade of conservative politics these days.

But here's what conservatives won't tell you, lest it undermine their theatrics: Many insurance plans are shutting down because they don't meet the higher bar of quality benefits required under Obamacare, and of those people who lose access to their plans, many will pay less and all will have better and more comprehensive options.

Also, with a few exceptions, no one is really noting that this point isn't quite news. In 2010, the fact that certain insurance plans would not be grandfathered into Obamacare because of their inadequate coverage was widely covered by the press. It was a given, after all that, if standards for health insurance were going to be raised in America -- a good thing -- then some plans that don't meet the bar would no longer be available. One could blame this on the Affordable Care Act, or alternatively, one could blame this on insurance companies for providing such substandard care in the first place.

Sally Kohn
Sally Kohn

Here's what this boils down to:

Will some people lose their current insurance? Yes.

Will these same folks lose health insurance coverage? No.

They will all have access to better plans and in many cases pay less because of expanded options and tax credits.

This whole kerfuffle ignores that insurance plans were changing all the time and premiums were skyrocketing pre-Obamacare. Suddenly, a whole range of bad behavior on the part of insurance companies is blamed on the Affordable Care Act. It's just like employers trying to shaft their workers by cutting hours and benefits and blaming it on the Affordable Care Act, even though employer mandate provisions don't take effect for another year.

Trying to blame Obamacare for every problem in the private insurance market is paradoxical: The whole reason for passing the Affordable Care Act was to fix what's broken with private insurance

If we as a nation object to the inherent and deeper flaws within the private health insurance system in America, then we should embrace a single-payer system. But instead, because conservatives were so wed to propping up the private insurance market, we got Obamacare. It's disingenuous to turn around and point fingers at Obamacare for faults that have always been -- and will always be -- pervasive in private health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act prevents some of the worst abuses of the private insurance market and makes coverage overall more inclusive and affordable. It doesn't fundamentally alter the private market equation -- and incentives to cut corners and care.

I know Republicans love their manufactured outrage, as much as they loved it back in September 2010, when Republican Sen. Mike Enzi cited the same 40% to 67% numbers for those expected to lose plans that NBC now reports as "new news." But the fact remains that about 80% of Americans get their health insurance either from their employers or from a program like Medicare, and that won't change at all under the Affordable Care Act.

Millions more are uninsured and will be thrilled to have access to affordable insurance at subsidized rates. This saves us all money, because the cost of their emergency room care isn't offloaded onto the rest of us in rising premiums. What we're focused on now is the small sliver of Americans who, like myself, get insurance through the individual market. Some of us will see our current plans disappear, but all of us will see our plans upgraded -- with many becoming more affordable.

When it comes to President Obama and his policies, conservatives have a steady supply of manufactured shock. But improving the quality and affordability of health insurance for all Americans and providing real facts along the way, that's an important accomplishment.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sally Kohn.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:24 PM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 7:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT