Donald Trump believed that the death knell for ObamaCare sounded from deep within his worse-than-horrible tax bill. Of course, he was wrong. Sure, he killed off the individual mandate, where people no longer have to sign up for health care or pay a fine, but ObamaCare is so alive, it is astonishing.
Trump’s Administration did everything they could to hurt ObamaCare enrollment. He cut the budget for the mailers that reminded people when to enroll. He cut the monies available for navigators — people who help people throughout the enrollment process. Plus, he shortened the enrollment period dramatically, slashing it in half. It did end December 15, but there are exceptions as the HealthCare.gov video below explains:
In spite of all of Trump’s intentional barriers, over 8.8 million people enrolled for ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act/ACA). That means in one-half of the allotted time and with a gutted budget, enrollment was only 400,000 short of last year’s enrollment of 9.2 million people, according to Modern Healthcare.
Given that there are exceptions to enrolling, this year’s numbers could go higher. Not to mention, the 8.8 million number does not include anyone who enrolled in the final three hours of the program’s open enrollment or anyone who left their contact information with the call center, as it raced to accommodate the exceptionally high volume.
Experts expected enrollment in the Affordable Care Act to dip dramatically this year. They believed that all of Trump’s barriers, which were intended to undermine the exchanges, would work.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma followed in Donald Trump’s footsteps and announced the final enrollment on Twitter. She also took that opportunity to thank all those who worked with her during open enrollment to make it, according to Modern Healthcare:
‘The smoothest experience for consumers to date. We take pride in providing great customer service.’
When Trump took an axe to the CMS marketing and outreach budget, there was hardly anything left. He whittled the $100-million-budget down 90 percent to $10 million. When he cut navigator funding to assist people trying to sign up, many groups decided to reduce their staffs and abandon their enrollment events.
The Trump administration’s uncertainty over what would happen to cost-sharing subsidies caused insurance companies to raise their premiums on the exchanges. A number of those carriers left the exchanges altogether, for a variety of reasons. The remaining navigators who were funded noted that people were confused about whether they would qualify for federal financial aid. Many enrollees did not understand how long the enrollment lasted.
With Trump removing the individual mandate, experts anticipate that many healthy young people will drop their coverage. That is unfortunate for two reasons. First, just like car insurance, companies count on a greater number of good drivers to make up for those who are poor drivers or become involved in accidents through no fault of their own.
Health insurance works the same way. When the healthier people leave, the premiums must increase. Second, younger people have accidents, get sick, and need insurance, too. If they drop ObamaCare, they are stuck with a medical centers’ emergency room, and we are stuck with the far-higher cost.
HealthCare.gov’s final numbers do not include people who enrolled in state-based exchanges. Those exchanges are the ones that may have extended their enrollment deadlines beyond the HealthCare.gov’s deadline of December 15. State exchanges have also increased their enrollment numbers.
CMS said it will release another enrollment snapshot in a week. The final report will come out in March.
Featured Image via Getty Images.