Obama Admits: You May 'End Up Having to Switch Doctors'

Friday, 14 Mar 2014 01:14 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Even if you like your doctor, you might not be able to keep him or her, President Barack Obama admitted in an interview Friday — reversing his earlier Obamacare promise.

"For the average person, many folks who don't have health insurance initially, they're going to have to make some choices," Obama said during the wide-ranging interview with WebMD's healthcare reform expert Lisa Zamosky. "And they might end up having to switch doctors, in part, because they're saving money."

Obama's statement was much different from a famous one he made back in 2009, when he was trying to sell his top agenda item to the American public.

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At that time, he said in a weekly address, "If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold."

But on Friday, Obama told Zamosky that as part of Obamacare, consumers will need to make some tough choices, especially when it comes to keeping their doctor.

"If your employer suddenly decides we think this network’s going to give a better deal, we think this is going to help keep premiums lower, you've got to use this doctor as opposed to that one, this hospital as opposed to that one," Obama said. "The good news is in most states people have more than one option and what they'll find, I think, is that their doctor or network or hospital that's conveniently located is probably in one of those networks. Now, you may find out that that network's more expensive than another network. And then you've got to make a choice in terms of what's right for your family."

The White House admitted months ago that some Americans wouldn't be able to keep their current health plans under Obamacare, despite Obama's emphatic promise.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said back in October, as Obamacare was struggling to roll out, that it was true that there were existing healthcare plans on the individual market that did not meet the minimum standards and therefore would not qualify for the Affordable Care Act.

At that time, NBC News also reported some 50 percent — or as many as 80 percent — of those with individual insurance policies could expect to be canceled largely because their policies don't meet Obamacare's minimum standards of coverage. NBC's experts say the costs of new policies will skyrocket.

Republicans, with Rep. Darrell Issa as their chief investigator, have also been hoping for months to prove Obama knew he was lying when he made the promise about keeping doctors. Issa, as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, sent letters to 15 insurance companies demanding key correspondence with Obama's administration that may show the president knew in advance people could lose access to their existing doctors under Obamacare.

Letters have gone out to insurers such as Aetna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and UnitedHealth Group.

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