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ACA exchange enrollment dropped by less-than-expected 3.7%

ACA exchange enrollment dropped by less-than-expected 3.7%

Almost 11.8 million Americans have signed up for coverage this year under former President Barack Obama's health care law, about 3 percent less than last year, according to a new tally by The Associated Press. Considering changes that were expected to depress enrollment-like HHS shortening the open enrollment period for Healthcare.gov and cutting its advertising budget by 90 percent-signups "remained generally stable", according to a report from the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP).

"For the first time we now have the full national picture of how the individual marketplaces did this year and it is a picture of remarkable stability", Trish Riley, executive director of NASHP, said in a statement.

The latest open enrollment period was indeed unlike any other saw far in the ACA's history, as it was not only half as long for many states but also taking place after a year in which Congress tried repeatedly to repeal the law that created the individual marketplaces. The president also often publicly referred to Obamacare as "dead" or "over".

The report combined enrollment figures from the federal exchange, where enrollment ended on December 15, 2017, along with state-based exchanges that allowed customers to select plans as late as January 31.

New York, Washington, Colorado, Rhode Island and CT were among the state-run markets that increased their enrollment over last year's numbers.

Nearly 12 million Americans signed up for 2018 health coverage through marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, suggesting consumers are steadily signing up for health plans even as Trump derided the markets as crumbling and unaffordable.

AP's count shows that states running their own marketplaces mostly outperformed the federal HealthCare.gov.

Korbulic credited the state's Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, with helping to stabilize a shaky market even as insurers stopped selling plans in the state and threatened to leave consumers in some rural areas with no choice of plans. That's 3% less than previous year.

In the 34 states using the federal marketplace, enrollment dropped by a larger 5.3 percent compared to 2017 and 10.5 percent compared to 2016.

Scullary says another reason may be because some people who make too much money to qualify for subsidies could get better deals elsewhere.

Those subsidies likely mean that millions of low- and moderate-income Americans will continue to be able to find relatively low-cost health plans on marketplaces in future years as well.

Despite their upbeat tone about this year's enrollment, directors of several state marketplaces warned that 2019 looks grim.

However, of the total number of people signed up this year about 6 in 10 live in states that went for Trump, according to the AP's analysis. But that also has drawbacks. "More people may have job-based coverage as an option and not have a need for Covered California because they're getting health care coverage through their employer". While the proposals have bipartisan support - and the idea is endorsed by many health industry groups - the legislation faces opposition from some lawmakers who see it as a bailout for the insurance industry.

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