The lie of the year, according to Politifact, is "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it." But the story of the year is a nation waking up to just how radical Obamacare is — which is why it required such outright deception to get it passed in the first place.
Obamacare was sold as simply a refinement of the current system, retaining competition among independent insurers but making things more efficient, fair and generous. Free contraceptives for Sandra Fluke. Free mammograms and checkups for you and me. Free (or subsidized) insurance for some 30 million uninsured. And, <i>mirabile dictu</i>, not costing the government a dime.
In fact, Obamacare is a full-scale federal takeover. The keep-your-plan-if-you-like-your-plan ruse was a way of saying to the millions of Americans who had insurance and liked what they had: Don't worry. You'll be left unmolested. For you, everything goes on as before.
That was a fraud from the very beginning. The law was designed to throw people off their private plans and into government-run exchanges where they would be made to overpay — forced to purchase government-mandated services they don't need — as a way to subsidize others. (That's how you get to the ostensible free lunch.)
It wasn't until the first cancellation notices went out in late 2013 that the deception began to be understood. And felt. Six million Americans with private insurance have just lost it. And that's just the beginning. By the Department of Health and Human Services' own estimates, about 75 million Americans have plans that their employers would have the right to cancel. And millions of middle-class workers who will migrate to the exchanges and don't qualify for government subsidies will see their premiums, deductibles and co-pays go up.
It gets worse. The dislocation extends to losing one's doctor and drug coverage, as insurance companies narrow availability to compensate for the huge costs imposed on them by the extended coverage and "free" services the new law mandates.
But it's not just individuals seeing their medical care turned upside down. The insurance providers, the backbone of the system, are being utterly transformed. They are rapidly becoming mere extensions of the federal government.
Look what happened just last week. Health and Human Services unilaterally and without warning changed coverage deadlines and guidelines. It asked insurers to start covering people on Jan. 1 even if they signed up as late as the day before and even if they hadn't paid their premiums. And is "strongly encouraging" them to pay during the transition for doctor visits and medicines <i>not</i> covered in their current plans (if covered in the patient's previous — canceled — plan).
On what authority does a Cabinet secretary tell private companies to pay for services not in their plans and cover people not on their rolls? Does anyone even ask? The bill itself is simply taken as a kind of blanket authorization for Health and Human Services to run, regulate and control the whole insurance system.
As if to make plain who is in charge, late Thursday night the administration did it again. It decreed that those with canceled insurance plans can now buy cheap "catastrophic" plans — that have been largely banned by Obamacare as inadequate and substandard. And Health and Human Services granted these same consumers the unique right to forgo health insurance entirely — without any penalty, something the insurance companies immediately denounced as destabilizing the risk pools of Obamacare's own exchanges.