8.8 million sign up for ObamaCare, almost matching previous year

Lester Mason
December 21, 2017

Almost 9 million people signed up for health insurance coverage through the federal ObamaCare exchanges, according to a top administration official.

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, revealed Thursday that roughly 8.8 million people registered during this year's open enrollment period, which lasted for only six weeks and ended on December 15.

Last year, about 9.2 million people signed up through Healthcare.gov, which serves more than 30 states.

But the higher-than-expected signups ran counter to President Donald Trump's pronouncements this year that the law was "dead", "finished" and "gone," as well as his explicitly stated plan to "let Obamacare fail" in order to force Democrats to back its repeal. So that's 12 million total, and numerous state exchanges are still open.

But the Trump administration allowed for a shorter enrollment period this time around - roughly half as long - and cut the vast majority of funding for enrollment promotion, leading many to fear enrollment would take a drastic dive.

"That didn't seem possible with a 90% reduction in outreach, an enrollment period cut in half, and a constant refrain that the program is dead", Levitt said on Twitter. Verma said CMS' outreach was much more "cost effective" this time around, and meant spending a little more than $1 per enrollee on outreach and education, compared with almost $11 per enrollee a year ago.

"Great job to the @CMSGov team for the work you did to make this the smoothest experience for consumers to date", Verma tweeted. That represents an unexpectedly robust turnout, which compares with the 9.2 million consumers who got coverage for 2017 during a three-month sign-up period that ended last January.

Republicans took a big swipe at President Obama's signature program in this week's tax overhaul, repealing the "individual mandate" to either hold insurance or pay a tax.

The Trump administration and its Republican allies in Congress failed this year to completely overturn the Affordable Care Act.

The rest of the law, including subsidies for most of the people who buy insurance on the exchanges, will remain in place.

"We have essentially repealed Obamacare and we will come up with something much better", Mr. Trump said Wednesday.

"We'll probably move on to other issues", McConnell told NPR on Thursday.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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