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Despite Compressed Sign-Up Period, ACA Enrollment Nearly Matches Last Year’s

| December 27, 2017

'Do you think this window sticker will still be there 10 years from now?,' Rich Menga, who took this shot, asks.

‘Do you think this window sticker will still be there 10 years from now?,’ Rich Menga, who took this shot, asks.

A day after President Donald Trump said the Affordable Care Act “has been repealed,” officials reported that 8.8 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the federal insurance exchange in 2018 — nearly reaching 2017’s number in half the sign-up time.

That total is far from complete. Enrollment is still open in parts of seven states, including Florida and Texas, that use the federal exchange but were affected by hurricanes earlier this year. The numbers released Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services also did not include those who signed up between midnight Dec. 15 and 3 a.m. ET on Dec. 16, the final deadline for 2018 coverage, as well as those who could not finish enrolling before the deadline and left their phone number for a call back.

And enrollment has not yet closed in 11 states — including California and New York — plus Washington, D.C., that run their own insurance exchanges. Those states are expected to add several million more enrollees.

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.

On the other hand, a Trump decision aimed at hurting the exchanges may have backfired. When he canceled federal subsidies to help insurers offer discounts to their lowest-income customers, it produced some surprising bargains for those who qualify for federal premium help. That may have boosted enrollment.

“Enrollment defied expectations and the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine it,” said Lori Lodes, a former Obama administration health official who joined with other Obama alumni to try to promote enrollment in the absence of federal outreach efforts. “The demand for affordable coverage speaks volumes — proving, yet again, the staying power of the marketplaces.”

“The ACA is not repealed and not going away,” tweeted Andy Slavitt, who oversaw the ACA under President Barack Obama.

The tax bill passed by Congress this week repeals the fines for those who fail to obtain health coverage, but those fines do not go away until 2019. Still, that has added to the confusion for 2018 coverage.

And it remains unclear whether Congress will make another attempt to repeal the law in 2018.

“I think we’ll probably move on to other issues,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in an interview Friday with NPR.

–Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News

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14 Responses for “Despite Compressed Sign-Up Period, ACA Enrollment Nearly Matches Last Year’s”

  1. Mark says:

    “Repeal” of the individual mandate makes the program voluntary. It is now a choice, as it should be! Now let’s see how good it is.

  2. Dave says:

    Haha Obamacare is going nowhere, it is here to stay

  3. Percy's mother says:

    I’m assuming you get your health insurance through “Obamacare”?

  4. Anonymous says:

    The mandate was originally a conservative idea.

  5. Really says:

    Love seeing more people sign up more insured.

  6. Richard says:

    Forced healthcare and inflated premiums along with multiple lies about Obama’s Obamacare has made the ACA the biggest joke of his presidency and totally un-affordable for my wife and millions upon millions of other Americans who no longer have health insurance. Whose is counting them? These “news” articles are just more propaganda from the left. If you think that Obamacare is here to stay you are you are living in a wet-dream world. The people who are signing up are the same ones who signed up last year and most of those don’t even pay their fair share because they are the freeloaders who expect others to pay for their healthcare.

  7. bob says:


  8. Edith Campins says:

    The bottom line is that the Republicans couldn’t come up with a better alternative, after eight years.
    And what happened to Trump’s promise of cheaper, better healthcare for all?

  9. Katie Semore says:

    The ignorance of people continue to astound me. One would think I’d get use to it but so far even though I know it is commonplace, it always shocks me when I see so much of it in one place as in these comments. By doing away with the mandate, that will only serve to cause the cost to go much higher much faster. Younger healthy people will gamble and not purchase health care insurance and those who are older and require more health care will be the ones purchasing it and because the insurance companies will be paying out more in comparison to the income received they will raise the premiums. Those who will be hurt most by this are the very ones who wanted it. It’s like chickens praising and loving on Colonel Sanders.

  10. Sherry says:

    WHERE oh where is that fantastic health care plan we were PROMISED by the Republicans for 8 years???
    WHERE are the lowers premiums?
    WHERE is the BETTER coverage for ALL?

    BUT trump and the Republican Congress PROMISED us!

    Yeah, right! It’s NOWHERE! Just like ALL their promises!

  11. Fredrick says:

    @Really… If companies are forced to provide care, it is not insurance. If you are forced to enroll via a mandate it is not insurance. It is just another form of welfare.

    @Sherry… Yep the Repubs should all be hung from the rafters. They gave 7 years to come up with something.

    and yes.. WHERE are the lower premiums that OBAMA pronised. Oh that’s right. HE LIED. That was the only way he could get it passed.
    WHERE is the if you like your plan and like your doctor you can keep them that OBAMA promised. Oh that’s right. OBAMA LIED.

    Get off your high horse Sherry. Obama’s reign was a disaster for this country. That disaster and your parties inability to put up a better alternative then Trump, got him elected. Your party outspent, had the media and through everything you had against him and you still got killed in the election. Your party needs to get its crap together, get a message / plan for the country. One that represents what the country wants. One that helps those who need help but acknowledges those that do take that responsibility. Not tell them that they are deplorable, racist, anti gay, blahh blahh blah…. We are tired of hearing it and said that at the last election and will say it again in 2018 mid terms.

  12. Bc. says:

    We are in this mess because of the dems. Our health care was the best in the world until Obama f~*^ed it up.

  13. Dave says:

    Fredrick how exactly did the dems get killed in the election? I believe more people voted for Hillary

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