(Washington, D.C.) The Obama administration offered its first formal apology to Americans and Congress for the botched rollout of the website for people to enroll in the President’s signature health care plan.
The rocky start for the website is the subject of a congressional hearing Tuesday.
The head of the federal agency in charge of creating the problem-plagued Obamacare website said Tuesday that some people with individual coverage must get new policies that include benefits that were unavailable before the reforms of the Affordable Care Act.
Marilyn Tavenner, who runs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told a congressional committee, “these individuals in a small group, our individual markets, had no protections” before the reforms became law.
Such consumers “could be kicked out any time for pre-existing conditions” or if they faced needing hospitalization or cancer treatment that their policies failed to cover, Tavenner said, adding that the reforms now protect them by requiring a minimum standard of coverage.
The initial number of people enrolled for health coverage was expected to be “small,” Tavenner said
However, NBC News reports 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law.
One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent and the Obama administration has known that since 2010 even though President Obama repeatedly said people could keep the insurance they had.
NBC reports many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”
The first figure for how many people enrolled so far would be available in mid-November, she said.
The administration had expected the initial enrollment to be small, Tavenner said, noting that the enrollment period ends on March 31.