U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, Nov. 4, 2013. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said he is sorry Americans' healthcare plans are being canceled despite his assurances people could keep plans if they like them.
In an interview Thursday with NBC News, Obama was asked whether he regretted repeatedly promising "if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan" under the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010 and has been taking effect incrementally since then.
Since Oct. 1, when an enrollment period opened for people to sign up for healthcare plans, insurers have notified several million customers their plans were being canceled, in many cases because the plans do not meet coverage criteria established in the ACA.
"I regret very much that what we intended to do which was to make sure that everybody is moving into better plans because they want them as opposed to because they're forced into it -- that we weren't as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place," he said.
The president said Thursday he is "sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me."
The Department of Health and Human Services said as early as July 2010 that 40 percent to 67 percent of the 14 million individual plan holders could lose their coverage as a result of turnover in the market, NBC reported.
HHS Secretary Katherine Sebelius told Congress this week a majority of individual market policyholders will move into plans offering better coverage.
Asked if he has "full confidence" in Sebelius, the president said the HHS secretary has "done a great job in setting up the insurance market so there is a good product out there for people to get."
"I think she'd be the first to admit that if we had to do it all over again, that there would have been a whole lot more questions that were asked in terms of how this thing is working."