President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle attended the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Washington Convention Center Saturday night. While extolling the benefits of Obamacare less than 10 days before the opening of the new health insurance marketplaces, the president said that "you can offer your family the security of health care ... for less than your cell phone bill."
The president was referring to a tweeted claim made earlier this week by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that said, "Nearly 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will #GetCovered for less than $100/month starting Jan 1." As noted at the time, Sebelius's claim was based on a press release from HHS that said that six in ten uninsured "may be able to get coverage" for less than $100 per month, a claim that looked even more dubious under closer examination.
The president repeated Sebelius's comment that "6 in 10 will be able to get coverage for less than 100 bucks a month;" and said [emphasis added]:
We can’t rest until every American knows the security of quality, affordable health care. (Applause.) In just over a week, thanks to the Affordable Care Act and the leadership shown by the CBC and others in Congress -- so many of you fought to pass this law -- thanks to your efforts, 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will finally be able to get covered for less than $100 a month. Everybody is going to be able to get coverage; 6 in 10 will be able to get coverage for less than 100 bucks a month. (Applause.) And by the way, the only reason it's 6 in 10 is because we've got some governors who -- (laughter) -- haven't seen the light yet. If every governor chose to join this project rather than to fight it just to score some political points, that number would be nearly eight in 10. (Applause.)
So just think about that. Knowing you can offer your family the security of health care –- that’s priceless. And now you can do it for less than your cell phone bill. That’s what change looks like. (Applause.)
Remarkably, this is not the first time the president has made the claim. At the end of August, President Obama was interviewed by Tom Joyner and Sybil Wilkes of the Tom Joyner Morning Show and said:
Anybody who doesn’t have health insurance in this country is going to be able to get it at an affordable rate, and we were just talking with some folks earlier about the fact that for a lot of people it’ll be cheaper than your cellphone bill.
According to a JD Power report in 2012, the average individual's cellphone bill is $71 per month.