President Donald Trump said removing the penalty for lacking health insurance essentially repeals Obamacare, but sign-ups for 2018 remain close to the same in half the time — and they hit an unexpected 1.7 million in Florida.
Ray said it “proves not just how hard everyone worked to help as many consumers as feasibly possible, but just how great the need is and the personal desire to have health care coverage is to Floridians and Americans across the country.”
And it’s not quite over in the state with the most enrollees in the federal marketplace. Florida residents can still sign up through Dec. 31, because of an extension related to Hurricane Irma.
The Trump administration cut the enrollment window in half to six weeks and reduced the advertising budget 90 percent. The president said this week he believes the health law is more or less nullified because the tax bill that just became law removes the penalty for not having insurance, which starts at $695.
“When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obamacare is repealed,” Trump said Wednesday.
“We didn’t want to bring it up,” Trump said. “I told people specifically be quiet with the fake news media because I don’t want them talking too much about it. Because I didn’t know how people would – but now that it’s approved, I can say the individual mandate on health care, where you had to pay not to have insurance, okay, think of that one. You pay not to have insurance. The individual mandate has been repealed.”
It’s possible that will still have a significant future effect on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Congressional number-crunchers projected that if fewer healthy people sign up, it could raise premiums for remaining buyers about 10 percent.
Then again, the vast majority of Obamacare’s remaining customers are receiving government subsidies to reduce the cost of insurance — so their out-of-pocket costs change very little despite headline premium increases. Monthly premiums remain under $100 for most in Florida.
So for many, it’s still a better deal than they can find if they are not already covered by an employer’s plan or a government plan like Medicare. The people not getting a good deal are those making too much income to qualify for subsidies.
Nationally, sign-ups stand at about 8.8 million, not far from last year’s 9.2 million.
Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that just proves the Trump administration administered the law more efficiently.
“This year CMS took a more cost effective outreach approach, spending just over $1 per enrollee on outreach and education for Exchange coverage compared to nearly $11 per enrollee last year,” Verma tweeted.
Please, supporters of the Affordable Care Act said. The enrollment numbers came in spite of the administration’s best efforts to kill it, they said.
“There is no reasonable justification for the administration cutting in half the time families had to enroll in coverage and slashing outreach to families,” said Frederick Isasi, executive director of pro-ACA group Families USA.
Despite that, he said, and despite “slashing funding to provide in-person enrollment assistance, redirecting outreach money, shutting down HealthCare.gov on Sundays, and reducing the advertising budget by a startling 90 percent – families from across the nation overcame the hurdles put in their way and signed up for coverage at an unprecedented pace.”
In fact, his group says consumers set a new record for weekly enrollment Dec. 10 to December 15, when 4.1 million people selected health insurance plans on HealthCare.gov. Previous high: 4 million signing up during the week of Dec. 13 to Dec. 19, 2015.
2018 ACA Marketplace Enrollment
Florida 1.73 million
U.S 8.8 million
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid through Dec. 15; excludes states with their own exchanges like California and New York.