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Obamacare: More than 2 million people getting booted from existing health insurance plans

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Updated: 10/29/2013 5:54 am
(CBS News) CBS News has learned more than two million Americans have been told they cannot renew their current insurance policies -- more than triple the number of people said to be buying insurance under the new Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

There have been estimates about hundreds of thousands of people losing coverage, CBS News' Jan Crawford reported on "CBS This Morning." CBS News has reached out to insurance companies across the country to determine some of the real numbers -- and this is just the tip of the iceberg, Crawford said. The people who are opening the letters are shocked to learn they can't keep their insurance policies despite President Obama's assurances to the contrary.

The White House is on the defensive trying to explain it, after Mr. Obama repeatedly said, "If you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep it."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "What the president said and what everybody said all along is that there are going to be changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act to create minimum standards of coverage."

It's an unexpected reality of Obamacare being told through anecdotes in local papers and on social media. But the hard numbers reveal the evidence is far more than anecdotal. CBS News has confirmed with insurance companies across the country that more than two million people are getting notices they no longer can keep their existing plans. In California, there are 279,000; in Michigan, 140,000; Florida, 300,000; and in New Jersey, 800,000. And those numbers are certain to go even higher. Some companies who tell CBS News they've sent letters won't say how many.

Industry experts like Larry Levitt, of the Kaiser Family Foundation, say the insurance companies have no choice. "What we're seeing now is reality coming into play," he said.

Obamacare forces them to drop many of their plans that don't meet the law's 10 minimum standards, including maternity care, emergency visits, mental health treatment and even pediatric dental care.

That means consumers have to sign on to new plans even if they don't want or need the more generous coverage. Industry experts say about half the people getting the letters will pay more -- and half will pay less, thanks to taxpayer subsidies. Levitt said, "The winners outnumber the losers here, but because of all the website problems, it's hard to find out who the winners are because they don't even know it themselves."

And for the people who've gotten the letters, the broken website is a real problem, Crawford added on "CTM." They don't know what to do. They don't know if they get subsidies. And then there are others getting the letters who have very good insurance but are being told they can't keep it. Industry experts CBS News talked to say for everyone, the best bet is to just call their insurance companies to get the information.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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