I hate to reply to an AC, but I hate wrong information more.
Multiple stories corroborate that the actual number potentially losing healthcare is one million, not the five million the AC suggested. These are policies that don't meet the ACA's minimum coverage levels, and thus are no longer allowed to be offered.
This has been a point pounded hard by those on the right ("If you like your plan you can keep it" was a lie!), wanting to point to people losing insurance. The left's typical response is that the plans are junk plans, and folks are better off being forced to get a real plan. Since those arguments are all over the web, I'm going to skip past them. Visit Google News to find them if you have missed out.
As is often the case, reality isn't simple enough to be captured in a sound byte. The law had a provision to grandfather old plans:
So what happens to the plans that don't meet the new minimum standards? They will likely disappear. A handful of existing plans will be grandfathered in, but the qualifying criteria for that is hard to meet: Members have to have been enrolled in the plan before the ACA passed in 2010, and the plan has to have maintained fairly steady co-pay, deductible and coverage rates until now.
What insurers have done is made sure no pre-2010 plan stayed in effect (yes, they cancel millions of plans every year), and for the few that have they have made sure the co-pays, deductibles, and coverage have changed significantly. Why would they do that? Well there are a about 4 million people on junk plans. How bad are these plans?
One example: the "Go Blue Health Services Card'' for which cancer survivor Donnamarie Palin of New Port Richey has paid $79 a month. For that, she gets $50 toward each primary care doctor visit, $15 toward each drug — but zero coverage for big-ticket items like hospital stays.
Get in a car wreck, no coverage. Get cancer, no coverage. Need a wart removed, no coverage. Break your arm, no coverage. Yeah. That bad. But they have one thing going for them, they are cheap. $79/month if you don't understand what you're (not) getting seems pretty cheap compared to hundreds of dollars for real insurance. In plain, simple terms these people were going to get a price hike. Now, you're an executive at a health insurance provider faced with the prospect that 4 million people are going to get letters saying "Your $79/month policy is going away, we'd like to offer you a $450/month policy, but it covers a lot more!" Yeah, that's going to lead to lots of bad press on the evening news.
But the way ACA was written had a convenient out. Make sure the law forced the cancellation of the plans, and then flip the narrative to say the government is canceling your plan. It should be no surprise that it took insurance executives about a nanosecond to figure this out and set the wheels in motion. Just make sure no plan qualified or could be grandfathered in.
Now that the Scooby Doo "how did they do it" moment is over, there is one bit left to tidy up. The savvy reader will notice 1 million Californians had their policy cancelled, but only around 150,000 have signed up on the California Exchange. Doesn't that mean that there are still about 850,000 less people with insurance? No.
You see, the only people forced to use the Government Exchanges are those who want a subsidy from the Government. Anyone else can still buy insurance directly (except for Washington DC and Vermont). Most of the people who are getting cancellation notices find in the same envelope a number of health plans they can purchase that do qualify, and some of them simply sign up. At this moment there is no reliable reporting on how many people have signed up privately. There's even a chance that some of these people are missing out on subsidies they could have if they went to an exchange, but are instead simply signing back up with the insurer who cancelled them!
The sprint of the left's argument that "you can keep your plan" was bunk. People on junk insurance neither had health insurance nor where they paying into the system. Those plans aways had to go from the start, and so the talking point was dead wrong. However the right's talking point that more people are going without insurance is equally bunk. While there are not precise numbers yet, all indicators point to a fairly substantial increase in the number of people with insurance, and the number of people paying into the system. Amazingly over time that should lower the costs to everyone, as costs are distributed more evenly. It will likely take 10 years or more for that to really happen though, so we won't know for some time.