‘Obamacare’ holding its own: 6.4M signed up so far
February 24, 2018 | 76° | Check Traffic

Top News

‘Obamacare’ holding its own: 6.4M signed up so far

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Health and Human Service (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell spoke during a news conference at the HHS in Washington on Oct. 19. The Obama administration said 6.4 million people have signed up so far this year for subsidized private insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov.

ADVERTISING

WASHINGTON >> “Obamacare” seems to be holding its own. The administration said today that 6.4 million people have enrolled for subsidized private coverage through HealthCare.gov, ahead of last year’s pace.

Despite rising premiums, dwindling insurers, and the Republican vow to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, about 400,000 more people signed up through Monday than for a comparable period in 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services Department said.

“Today’s enrollment numbers confirm that doomsday predictions about the marketplace are not bearing out,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

Still, it’s too early for supporters of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, to say “I told you so.” It’s unclear if the administration will meet its target of 13.8 million sign-ups.

That’s partly because the share of new customers is down when compared with current consumers re-upping for another year.

New customers are 32 percent of the total this year versus 40 percent around the same time last year. Administration officials said they’re going to focus on getting more new customers between now and the end of open enrollment Jan. 31.

Other vital signs for HealthCare.gov were encouraging.

“There are zero signs that the ACA’s marketplaces are in danger of imminent collapse,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, who has followed the health care law from its inception.

That carries an implicit warning for President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, who have promised to move quickly to repeal the law. That repeal would be followed by a GOP-inspired replacement. Although immediate changes affecting 2017 are unlikely, the whole process could take several years, creating uncertainty for people with coverage.

As if on cue, Democratic governors today fired off a letter to GOP congressional leaders, calling the repeal plan “nothing more than a Washington, D.C., bait-and-switch” that would leave millions uninsured and shift to states an estimated $69 billion over a decade in uncompensated care costs.

The statistics released today are for 39 states served by the federal online insurance marketplace. Numbers from states running their own markets have not been fully tallied, and will be added later, raising the total. Toward the end of this month, several million current customers who are being re-enrolled automatically will be added to the count.

Some of the biggest sign-up numbers so far are coming from states Trump won in the presidential election, including Florida (1.3 million); Texas (776,000); North Carolina (369,000); Georgia (352,000), and Pennsylvania (291,000). Vice president-elect Mike Pence’s home state of Indiana had 119,000 residents enrolled.

Premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan in HealthCare.gov states are going up an average of 25 percent next year, driven by lower-than-expected enrollment and higher medical costs. At the same time, about one-third of U.S. counties will have only one marketplace insurer next year because some major commercial carriers have left the market, and many nonprofit insurance co-ops created by the law have collapsed.

The impact of premium increases has been softened by the law’s subsidies, which are designed to rise if the cost of insurance goes up.

A study last week from the nonpartisan Center for Health and Economy found that the average monthly subsidy will increase by $76, or 26 percent, from $291 currently to $367 in 2017.

But that means taxpayers will fork over nearly $10 billion more. The study estimated that the cost of premium subsidies will increase by $9.8 billion next year, rising from $32.8 billion currently to $42.6 billion.

Even if the law’s rising subsidies are working to keep customers in the market, independent analyst Caroline Pearson of the consulting firm Avalere Health said the apparent slow-down in new consumers should concern the administration.

“At this time, enrollment appears to be slightly behind the pace needed to reach the administration’s goal of signing up 13.8 million people,” she said. “However, if more people who are currently in the market renew their coverage, then that goal could still be achieved.”

HealthCare.gov’s advertising in the closing weeks of open enrollment will be aimed at attracting new customers, said HHS Secretary Burwell. In addition, the IRS will be sending people who paid fines for being uninsured a not-too-subtle nudge, reminding them that they can avoid higher penalties for 2017 by signing up now.

Republicans plan to repeal “Obamacare” early next year, but it could take up to several years to replace it. During the interlude, party leaders have promised an orderly transition to a new system. It’s unclear what that would involve, but presumably some of the law’s popular provisions — such as subsidies and protection for those with pre-existing medical conditions — would be kept in place.

The 2010 health overhaul added coverage for about 20 million people through a combination of subsidized private health insurance and a state option to expand Medicaid. Several Republican states adopted the Medicaid expansion, including Indiana under Pence.

61 comments

Leave a Reply

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
    • Obamacare is mandatory, fail to sign up for Kenyan anchor-baby dictator’s health plan or you pay a mandatory fine to the IRS. You don’t have much of a choice there DUMBO.

      • You are correct.
        And the fine is heavy.
        I know of a young family where the guy lost his job and his health insurance.
        They give you 2 months to get new health insurance or pay a hefty fine.
        At his new job, you have to work for at least a month before you get health insurance.
        It took him about 6 weeks to get a new job.
        They had to pay 6 thousand dollars (fine plus other mandatory costs).
        When they finally did get the healthy insurance they could not use it because it had a 20% copay and they were making payments on the fine.

        It is quite possibly one of the most stupid schemes I have ever seen.

        • You are correct.
          And the fine is heavy.
          I know of a young family where the guy lost his job and his health insurance.
          They give you 2 months to get new health insurance or pay a hefty fine.
          At his new job, you have to work for at least a month before you get health insurance.
          It took him about 6 weeks to get a new job.
          They had to pay 6 thousand dollars (fine plus other mandatory costs).
          When they finally did get the healthy insurance they could not use it because it had a 20% copay and they were making payments on the fine.

        • Cricket_Amos- You’re lying, of course. The maximum penalty for a family in any one calendar year is $2,085. You can lie about things (as you do here) or engage in a debate using real facts.

        • Klastri

          The details here involve the size of the family.
          Perhaps you could ask for clarification before calling people names and making insulting ill informed statements.

        • Additionally, you also may have missed that I said

          “(fine plus other mandatory costs)”

          If you are interested in understanding this I will provide you with the details.

        • Cricket_Amos – No matter the size of the family, the maximum cost of non compliance is $2,085, and then the penalty is triggered by being without coverage for three months – not two months. And there is a long list of exceptions because of hardship. No one in the circumstances that you wrote would be assessed a penalty. Period. You just made up the whole story out of thin air.

          You can make up whatever you want. The facts are all part of the public record, and are available to anyone who reads the regulations.

          Facts are very stubborn things.

        • Cricket, no sense explaining to Klastri. He’s got his head so far up his asinine and the stench so bad he passes out from the bad gas.

    • Watch them get a big surprise when Trump tries to take away their health insurance. I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to grab their guns and take to the streets if that happens. As the saying goes, you usually don’t appreciate what you got until it’s gone.

      • The people who are getting it for free, or with subsidies, get medicaid level care.
        When they go to a doctor, it is the same networks etc that they have access to.
        Simply moving them to medicaid will have little effect, and it will get rid of at least one useless level of bureaucrats.

        • The people who are getting it for free, or with subsidies, get medicaid level care.
          When they go to a doctor, it is the same networks etc that they have access to.
          Simply moving them to medicaid will have little effect, and it will get rid of at least one level of adminsitration.

        • Cricket_Amos – You’re lying again. Obamacare policies are purchased from insurance companies that have access to exactly the same doctors and hospitals as everyone else covered by that underwriter.

          Lying again. As always.

        • Wrong again Klastri

          This information comes from first hand experience of a medical practice.
          In fact it is a great inconvenience to the people when they find that the plan they have obtained is limited to basically the same network limitations of state medicare.

          The plus side to this is the cancelling of Obama care could be done more easily.

      • The people who are getting it for free, or with subsidies, get medicaid level care.
        When they go to a doctor, it is the same networks etc that they have access to.
        Simply moving them to medicaid will have little effect,

        • Wrong once again Klastri.

          Are you beyond civil discourse and learning anything from rational dialogue?

        • Cricket_Amos – Civil discourse is not possible when you make up your own facts.

          You are lying when you say that Obamacare policies are the same as Medicaid. That just isn’t so, and it’s easily proven.

      • ” As the saying goes, you usually don’t appreciate what you got until it’s gone.” that’s exactly what happened when our present POTUS rolled out his creative health care coverage plan that literally REPLACED the existing plans many people had and were enjoying.

  • the reason they are signing up is that after obamacare is repealed it will be replaced with something better, trumpcare, and i wouldn’t be left behind.. same reason the stock market is rising. confidence in the upcoming trump econonmy

  • The White House says it has surpassed its goal for the number of people enrolled in Obamacare. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you make something mandatory, fine people if they don’t do it, and keep extending the deadline for months. It’s like a Cinderella story. 🙂

  • Unbelievable! Miracles do happen! Tis the Season! Merry Christmas! Obama is the greatest potus in American history! I want a RE-ELECTION! I want baracki huINSANE Obama to run for a 3rd term! I want to abolish the Electoral College system!

  • The life span of the average American has decreased since the “affordable care act” has passed. Rates have skyrocketed, services lost, this so called affordable act is knott holding its own.

  • More shibai from the most deviously, incompetent president in American History. Obamadon’tcare has put off increases in premiums and penalties until next year, when they were hoping that low information people would be listening to Hillary Gruber more people into feeling good about it. Most of the enrolled are poor and don’t have to pay premiums, or they are older and use up all the resources. The young and healthy Americans are just too intelligent to sign up for this mess of a program. Next year, we will make sure President Trump does the right thing and repeals Obamadon’tcare.

      • Good point Cricket, Medicare starts at 65, and there are a lot of years where you don’t get coverage under Medicare. In addition President Obama cut over $700 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamadon’tcare. So you see, it’s a real scam.

  • The only reason people don’t like Obamacare is the name Obama attached to it. Just change it to TrumpCare and they’ll all think it’s a great health plan. People just cannot stand a black president with a Muslim name.

  • “There are zero signs that the ACA’s marketplaces are in danger of imminent collapse,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Nonpartisan? Seriously? That would be like pushing the notion that Rush Limbaugh is nonpartisan. While the goal of insuring the uninsured may have been noble, the creation and implementation of the ACA is a shining example of why progressives should never be allowed to put this kind of program in place. Barry Hussein, the democrat party and ACA architect Jon Gruber relied on the “stupidity of the American voter” to ram this train wreck down the collective throat of the country. And if I’m not mistaken the Hawaii Health Connector spectacularly failed taking $130 million taxpayer dollars with it.

    • Actually, I’d say the waste of money was spent on the preparation for Obamacare, and , it was our inept local officials to get this plan into motion. The idea was right, the people putting the plan into action dropped the ball and are to blame.

  • They signed up for it because they are getting ready for Trumpcare. Obama should have to enroll in Obamacare but he won’t because it ain’t worth it and he gets better care than the people he represented. Can’t wait for him to leave office and let a real person for the people run the country rather than the great divider Obama.

  • “There are zero signs that the ACA’s marketplaces are in danger of imminent collapse,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Nonpartisan? Seriously? That would be like pushing the notion that Rush Limbaugh is nonpartisan. While the goal of insuring the uninsured may have been noble, the creation and implementation of the ACA is a shining example of why progressives should never be allowed to put this kind of program in place. Barry Hussein, the democrat party and ACA architect Jon Gruber relied on the “s$up*di@y of the American voter” to ram this train wreck down the collective throat of the country. And if I’m not mistaken the Hawaii Health Connector spectacularly failed taking $130 million taxpayer dollars with it.

      • Boss, isn’t it past your bedtime? Better put on your pj’s and jump in the sack and or you’re going to be grouchy tomorrow.

        My first post got hung up by the censors because I spelled out a word Gruber used to describe American voters. So I immediately coded the word (s$up*di@y) in an identical post that passed muster.

  • More manufactured news from our so called news press. You expect me to believe everyone is happy with their expensive and unusable (Because of high premiums) Obama Care… you can’t believe our news corp’s and need a service like snopes to help guide you through their biases!

  • Another “fake news” piece by the AP and sucked down by the SA. 6.4 million huh? I wonder how many of those were MediAid mandatory sign-ups. You put lip stick on the pig but it’s still a pig.

  • Wait, wait, wait! I thought the UN-Affordable Care Act was supposed to provide insurance for 30 million uninsured, but only 6.4 million have signed up? I want to know how many of that 6.4 million had insurance before the UACA was passed but had to sign up because they lost their insurance (remember: “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan – that was not true), lost their job, can’t afford their old plan or have to do avoid the tax penalty.

  • the way that this program was set up does not give one any viable alternatives under its designed agenda and implementation mechanisms. to not sign up by a given DEADLINE, then to have absorb a substantial financial “penalty” in INCREASED PREMIUMS WITH GREATLY MODIFIED “BENEFITS” for both signing AND for not signing on time does not seem like an equitable way of giving citizens a way to “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”. our government under this lame-duck President should just get out of the way, not be the “big brother”, and let the market forces do its natural “thing” in allowing folks to RETAIN ALL the choices they had prior to the roll-out of this “magnanimous” health plan. this effort to socialize medicine under political correctness has been highly over-rated, and costly to many.