Obamacare Marketplace Enrollment Falls by 500,000 Amid GOP Repeal Effort

WASHINGTON (McClatchy Washington Bureau/TNS) -

Enrollment in the Obamacare insurance marketplaces fell by 500,000 this year to 12.2 million people, the Trump administration reported Wednesday.

The 4 percent decline suggests that the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and President Donald Trump’s decision not to enforce the law’s individual-coverage mandate convinced many Americans not to bother signing up this year.

In states that use the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace, 2017 enrollment fell by 4.2 percent, or 400,000, down from 9.6 million in 2016. Enrollment on state-run marketplaces fell by 100,000 to 3 million, the Department of Health and Human Services reported.

Eighty-four percent of HealthCare.gov enrollees received average tax credits of $383 per month, which paid about 73 percent of their total premiums. That left an average after-tax credit premium of $106 per month.

More than seven in 10 federal marketplace enrollees — nearly 6.6 million — are low- to moderate-income individuals who earn no more than 2 1/2 times the federal poverty level.

These consumers would receive far less financial assistance to pay for coverage under the Republican legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office reported this week.

The CBO estimates that the average tax credit would be 40 percent less under the Republican bill in 2020 than under the Affordable Care Act.

The leaner tax credits, the elimination of subsidies to help pay copays and deductibles, and the repeal of the individual mandate under the GOP proposal would cause 14 million people to lose coverage in 2018 and 24 million by 2026, the CBO reported.

The latest enrollment declines had been apparent for weeks. Insurance sign-ups at the federal marketplace website fell nearly 50 percent in the final two weeks of the 2017 enrollment period compared with 2016, according to figures from the Trump administration.

In 2016, nearly 700,000 people got coverage through HealthCare.gov in the last two weeks of open enrollment. That number fell to just over 376,000 this year after Trump pulled $5 million in advertising and issued a confusing executive order that hinted there would be no penalty for people who didn’t obtain coverage.