Pa. Obamacare enrollment drops following Trump-reduced signup period

2018-01-02 | The Patriot-News

Jan. 02--Enrollment in health insurance coverage offered under the Affordable Care Act in Pennsylvania is down 8.7 percent from 2017, according to the latest figures from the federal government.

As of Dec. 28, 389,081 people in Pennsylvania were enrolled in coverage, down from about 426,000 people in 2017.

The latest figures, which represent people who signed up for 2018 coverage, came during an enrollment period that ended Dec. 15, and which was significantly shortened by the President Donald Trump administration. In 2017, the enrollment period lasted until Jan. 31.

Nationally, about 8.7 people enrolled or were re-enrolled during the recent open enrollment period.

That number was considered surprisingly high, given the shortened enrollment period and months of talk of repealing the ACA, also known as Obamacare. The budget for advertising the coverage and helping people enroll also was cut.

Kaiser Health News wrote, "The robust numbers for sign-ups on the federal exchange -- 96 percent of last year's total -- surprised both supporters and opponents of the health law, who almost universally thought the numbers would be lower. Not only was the sign-up period reduced by half, but the Trump administration dramatically cut funding for advertising and enrollment aid. Republicans in Congress spent much of the year trying to repeal and replace the law, while Trump repeatedly declared the health law dead, leading to widespread confusion."

The 389,081 Pennsylvania enrollees represent people covered by private health insurance plans purchased on the electronic marketplace, or exchange.

That doesn't include people covered by the other main arm of Obamacare, which is the expansion of the government-funded Medicaid program.

About 700,000 Pennsylvania residents were enrolled in expanded Medicaid as of early 2017. That part of the ACA has yet to be substantially changed.