Obamacare not for me, HHS head Kathleen Sebelius says

Top health care official prefers employer plan

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Both women laid some of the blame for the website’s problems on the lead company they hired to help build the site.

But the vendors have said the Obama administration did not test the system “end to end” until days before its launch, and a CMS memo said the website hadn’t completed security testing as of Sept. 27.

“From a security perspective, the aspects of the system that were not tested due to the ongoing development, exposed a level of uncertainty that can be deemed as a high risk for the [Federally Facilitated Marketplace],” the memo said.

Making matters worse for the administration, website problems have been eclipsed this week by concerns that many Americans in the individual market will not be able to keep their health care plans, as Mr. Obama had promised.

Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, said Mr. Obama’s vow has been cast into doubt by a flood of cancellation notices nationwide.

Mrs. Sebelius told lawmakers that if a plan was in place in 2010, when Congress passed the legislation, then it could have been grandfathered in as long as the companies didn’t make major changes.

“Insurance companies cancel individual policies year in and year out,” she said. “They’re a one-year contract with individuals. They are not lifetime plans.”

She reminded lawmakers that the individual market covers a small percentage of Americans — many are covered by their employers or by programs such as Medicare — and that some consumers will gain better health plans at similar or lower costs, especially with the help of government subsidies.

Mr. Upton said Americans are “scared” and “frustrated” with the situation because many of these people cannot use the Obamacare websites to explore their options — just weeks after Mrs. Sebelius and her lieutenants assured lawmakers that the federal exchange system was ready to launch.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, told Mrs. Sebelius that the law is taking away a personal choice to hold a bare-bones plan.

“I will remind you,” she said, “some people like to drive a Ford, not a Ferrari, and some people like to drink out of a red Solo cup, not a crystal stem.”

 

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