President Obama said he was "sorry" Thursday that Americans are losing their current health insurance because of Obamacare in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd.
"I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me," he said. "We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this … "We weren't as clear as we needed to be."
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Obama publicly promised at least 36 times since 2008 that Americans who liked their current health care plans would be able to keep them under the Affordable Care Act.
Obama told Todd he "meant" what he said when he made that pledge, but he blamed "churn" in the market that caused that to be untrue for a "small amount of the population."
"We worked hard to try to make sure that we implemented it properly," he said. "Obviously, we didn't do a good enough job and I regret that. We're talking about 5 percent of the population who are in what's called the individual market. They're out there buying health insurance on their own. A lot of these plans are sub-par plans. We put a clause in the law that said if you have one of those plans, even it was sub-par when the law was passed, you could keep it. But there's enough churn in the market that folks since then have bought sub-par plans and now that may be all they can afford."
Consumers who buy insurance on their own – about five percent of the population – are at risk of being forced off their current policies because their plans have changed and don’t meet the new standards of the Affordable Care Act.Obama’s statement has been called into question as millions of Americans have gotten cancellation notices, effectively forcing them to enroll in a new plan either with their current insurer or through the government exchanges, in many cases at a higher rate.
Guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services dating back to July 2010 estimated that "40 to 67 percent" of the 14 million consumers in that marketplace could lose their policies due to turnover in the individual insurance market, NBC found. That part of the law does not impact the 80 percent of Americans who receive their health insurance through employers or through Medicare or Medicaid.