Are Only “Substandard” Plans Being Canceled?

The WSJ has an article today on how President Obama could have “parsed” his words better when it came to his claim that if you like your health insurance, you can keep it.

But the WSJ article seems awfully credulous about the supposed “parsing” that the Administration’s spinmeisters are putting on it.  Apparently, what the President should have said, is that you can keep your plan if it is not substandard or “shoddy.”  The canceled policies “aren’t even insurance” some have scoffed.

Richard Kirsch, the former national campaign manager of Health Care for America Now, which pushed for the 2010 health law, said the words were reassuring—and true—for the vast majority of the people, and so his group never raised concerns about that claim. Adding an asterisk to note that people who had “shoddy insurance” might need to change plans was not practical, he said.

“The actual, accurate statement is if you have good insurance, and you like it, you can keep it,” said Mr. Kirsch, now a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal policy organization.

Leave aside the claim that it was “not practical” for the President to tell the truth.  One Obama official quoted in the article gives up the game when he admits that President Obama easily could have told the truth–you can “probably” keep your insurance or “most people can keep their insurance”–but simply chose not to because telling the truth would have hurt him politically: “The former official added that in the midst of a hard-fought political debate ‘if you like your plan, you can probably keep it’ isn’t a salable point.”  Quite a confession.

Focus instead on the purported clarification that what was omitted was that only those with “shoddy insurance” might lose their plans.

But that’s not actually true either.  Consider just a couple of examples.  The wife of a friend had a hysterectomy, and as a result cannot have children.  Yet she is being required to now buy a policy that requires her to pay for maternity and pediatric care and her rates are going up.  Single men or married couples with adult children are required to pay for maternity and pediatric care.  Their rates are going up substantially.

But isn’t it a matter of definition that their old plans (which did not require purchase of pediatric and maternity care) cannot be said to be “substandard” because it didn’t didn’t offer these benefits? It isn’t a matter of political parsing, but logic–if you can’t have a baby, I don’t see how it can be a “substandard” policy that your policy doesn’t offer maternity coverage.

Is it possible to define my auto insurance policy “substandard” because it doesn’t provide motorcycle insurance, even though I don’t own a motorcycle? I don’t see how.

Far from being a “parsing” or “clarification,” isn’t the claim that only “substandard” plans are being canceled also, um, not accurate?  It seems like they are simply replacing one inaccurate statement with another.  I would think that the reporters for the Wall Street Journal–and others–would have enough logical sense to be able to ask this question and not just passively report political spin.

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