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Obama Eases Rules on Canceled Health Plans

President Barack Obama will ease rules that were causing some people to lose their health insurance under the health care law, he announced Nov. 14.

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Obama had repeatedly promised that consumers who like their health insurance plans could keep them under the new system. But some people who buy their own insurance - as opposed to getting it through an employer - found their plans canceled by insurers in recent weeks because they didn't meet the minimum standards the law requires.

Obama said he understands why people are upset: "I hear you loud and clear. I said we would do all we can to fix this problem, and today we are doing it."

The complaints of angry consumers came on top of the criticism of the faulty website for finding insurance.

"We fumbled the rollout on this health care law," Obama said. "That's on me."

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The new rule means that insurers can continue to offer their existing customers plans that don't meet the minimum requirements, even if they bought their policies after the law passed. Republicans have proposed also allowing insurers to continue offering the plans to new customers. But the White House said that would undermine the risk pools of the new health insurance marketplaces.

Senior White House officials who spoke on the condition they not be named said the new law will allow a one-year renewal of plans. Most people who buy their own insurance do so for a year or less - as, say, a stopgap measure between jobs. The officials said they are still hopeful such customers will find not only better choices in the new insurance marketplaces but also, for many of them, financial assistance available under the health care law to buy it.

The new rule requires that insurance companies tell customers what benefits they are missing out on and inform them that the new insurance marketplaces may have financial assistance and better coverage.

Republicans have long attacked Obamacare, but the president said he wouldn't walk away from a measure that can help millions of people without health insurance: "I am confident by the time we look back on this next year, people are going to say this is working well and it's helping a lot of people."


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