PRESIDENT OBAMA: Now it is also true that some Americans who have health insurance plans that they bought on their own through the old individual markets are getting notices from their insurance companies suggesting that somehow because of the Affordable Care Act, they may be losing their existing health insurance plans. This has been the latest flurry in the news.
There's -- because there's been a lot of confusion and misinformation about this, I want to explain just what's going on.
One of the things health reform was designed to do was to help not only the uninsured but also the underinsured. And there are a number of Americans, fewer than 5 percent of Americans, who've got cut-rate plans that don't offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident.
Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received or used minor pre-existing conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy. So a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good.
Before the Affordable Care Act, the worst of these plans routinely dropped thousands of Americans every single year. And on average, premiums for folks who stayed in their plans for more than a year shot up about 15 percent a year. This wasn't just bad for those folks who were -- had these policies; it was bad for all of us, because, again, when tragedy strikes, and folks can't pay their medical bills, everybody else picks up the tab.
Now if you had one of these substandard plans before the Affordable Care Act became law and you really liked that plan, you were able to keep it. That's what I said when I was running for office.
That was part of the promise we made.
But ever since the law was passed, if insurers decided to downgrade or cancel these substandard plans, what we said under the law is, you've got to replace them with quality, comprehensive coverage because that too was a central premise of the Affordable Care Act from the very beginning.