White House defends Obamacare rule that forces new insurance

Posted at 8:18 AM, Nov 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-01 10:18:30-04

By CNN’s Bryan Koenig

(CNN) — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Friday continued to defend the rule in the national health care law that may end up forcing millions of Americans from their health insurance.

Carney’s defense of the law comes amid revelations that a grand total of six Americans signed up for Obamacare coverage on the first day the online exchanges went live October 1, according to internal notes provided to the Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Despite those numbers, the White House remains confident that it will get the millions of new enrollees it needs on the exchanges to avoid massive cost increases, despite technical problems plaguing the website. The open enrollment period lasts six months, Carney said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“We are going to get the numbers we need,” he said.

As for those on the individual market at risk of losing their health insurance, “you have other options,” Carney said of those whose insurance no longer meets the minimum standards required by the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

The White House argument of “better options” is a step away from what President Barack Obama has been arguing for years on the stump, that those who want to keep their insurance would be able to do so under Obamacare. Revelations that the claim isn’t completely accurate has forced administration officials to re-work their approach.

Carney emphasized Friday that only a fraction of the population, estimated to be five percent, might end up losing their existing health insurance. Most of that is so-called “catastrophic” coverage that is cheap and good for little more than major medical emergencies. And only some of that five percent will actually lose their insurance, Carney said.

When asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo about the law requiring individuals to get new insurance coverage they may not need or want, such as maternity care, Carney argued that many people don’t really know or understand what their options are and urged buyers to do their homework. In many cases, “you’re going to find out you get better insurance, that’s a guarantee, better minimum coverage and at same or lower cost because you’ll qualify for a tax credit,” he said.

When it comes to what may be extraneous coverage for some, Carney argued that allowing lower minimum standards would end up keeping some from coverage they need, like mental health.

“You sure don’t want your insurance company telling you that they’ve in the fine print carved out an exception and won’t cover the very condition that you have,” Carney said.

“That’s what the individual insurance market has been like for decades and that’s what the Affordable Care Act fixes.”

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