Tuesday, 20 February, 2018

Nearly 11.8M sign up for 'Obamacare'

Credit Google Street View Credit Google Street View
Melinda Barton | 08 February, 2018, 12:56

11,760,418 people signed up for 2018 health insurance coverage on the ACA individual marketplaces, amid steep reductions in federal funding for outreach and navigators, an enrollment period half as long, and a climate of political uncertainty surrounding the law. If they prove popular, that could siphon off more healthy people.

Total enrollment dropped 3.7 percent from 12.2 million in 2017, data released by the National Academy for State Health Policy Wednesday showed.

The dozen or so states running their own insurance marketplaces mostly outperformed the federal HealthCare.gov.

According to the data, plan selections in states that operate SBM or SBM-FPs outpaced selections in states that use the FFM, with plan selections in the 17 SBM and SBM-FP state-based marketplaces and the District of Columbia showing a slight increase over a year ago compared to a 5.3 percent total drop in the 34 states using the federally-facilitated marketplace.

Rhode Island (12.1%), Kentucky (10.4%), and Washington State (7.6%) saw the largest share increases in signups, while Louisiana (-23.5%), West Virginia (-19.5%), and Arizona (-15.6%) had the largest drop in shares of signups. In 2018 the increase in financial assistance was often greater than the change in their plan's premiums. "Certainly we're seeing a strong economy here in California".

A common message sent by several of the marketplaces was that lower-cost plans were available for individuals eligible for tax subsidies (individuals between 100-400 percent of the federal poverty level). However, 423,484 of those consumers were new enrollees, which is up three percent from past year.

Double-digit premium increases in many states are also blamed for decreasing enrollment in many locations. The increases are one possible reason some enrollees sought coverage outside of marketplaces. Every year, the marketplaces have improved their online and operation systems to better meet consumer needs.

States with larger enrollment declines have generally attributed the reduction to the Trump administration's decision to cut back on marketing efforts and shorten the 2017 open-enrollment period, which ended more than a month earlier than it did in California. That's according to a new tally by The Associated Press.

However, the minority of Covered California's customers making enough that they don't qualify for government help would have to pay full freight if they stayed in the exchange.

The academy - a nonpartisan group of state health policymakers - chose to crunch the numbers right away because enrollment is now closed in every state.