DENVER - Almost a quarter million people in Colorado are learning that President Obama's pledge "if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan," isn't that simple.
The state Division of Insurance released numbers for the first time Wednesday outlining just how many Coloradans will be forced to go shopping for a new plan: 249,199 as of November 1st.
The existing health plans are being cancelled in the wake of changes to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The Division of Insurance did not specify how many plans were canceled as a direct result of Obamacare and how many were dropped due to what it called "normal business operations."
A Division spokesman was unable to immediately say how many policies have been canceled in previous years due to standard insurance industry turnover. This article will be updated with that information if it becomes available.
The quarter million Coloradans who have lost their existing plans are eligible to buy new, ACA-compliant plans from their old insurer or enter the state's insurance exchange.
Proponents of Obamacare say many of the previous plans were substandard and that consumers will find better, and possibly less expensive, plans under the ACA.
"Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cancelled policies when people got sick. Now that they can't, and actually have to provide care, those policies are changing for the better," said Laura Chapin, Colorado spokesperson for Protect Your Care, a pro-ACA advocacy group.
"Insurers can no longer bait-and-switch health care consumers with policies which, when you looked at the fine print, effective charged them money while leaving them uninsured," Chapin said.
Critics point out that some people will pay significantly more for insurance plans providing coverage they don't want or need.
The conservative group Compass Colorado tied the President's promise to a similar pledge made by U.S. Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat up for re-election next year.
"When Senator Udall promised Coloradans they could 'keep their plan,' he was either grossly misled by the leadership of his party or he was simply lying," said Compass Colorado spokesperson Kelly Maher.
"Either way, it's the job of a U.S. Senator to know better - and protect the best interest of his constituents - Senator Udall violated the public trust," Maher said.
Three-fourths of those who have lost their existing insurance plans in Colorado were with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado and Anthem's HMO Colorado. Both are offering new Obamacare-compliant options for 2014.
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