Obamacare Nears Its Annual Sign-up Period — So How Will It Fair?

Matt Charnock
Matt Charnock
Obamacare Nears Its Annual Sign-up Period — So How Will It Fair?

Obamacare is still the law of the land — and it’s nearing it’s annual sign-up period. So, how will the application numbers fair under the current administration?

It’s the first test of how the Trump administration will handle enrollment under the law it claims is “imploding.” With the president making no secret of his desire to kill the law completely, Democrats accuse the administration of "sabotage" and say the number of new enrollees is likely to drop as a result.

Such an outcome would lift the uninsured rate, which has fallen dramatically since the law went into effect, and could hurt ObamaCare’s sustainability by leaving a smaller, sicker and costlier pool of enrollees.

“There’s a renewed urgency that I haven’t seen in the past couple of years,” said Lori Lodes, a former Obama administration health official who runs Get America Covered, a group working with local officials to fill the gap left by the Trump administration’s cuts.

President Trump’s recent comments that the law is “dead” are not helping, according to Ceci Connolly, CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans.

“Some folks might hear that and think either, ‘I don’t have to sign up for insurance anymore,’ or maybe ‘my insurance isn’t available,’ ” said Connolly, whose group includes community-based health insurers, many of which participate in the ObamaCare markets.

“If enrollment drops and healthy people drop out the effect would be destabilizing,” said Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “In this political environment what happens during open enrollment will be really important both symbolically and practically.”

But experts emphasize that the law is still on the books and financial assistance is still available to help people afford coverage.

“We're really trying to make sure that consumers are aware of the fact that things aren’t really changing that much,” said Kelley Turek, AHIP's executive director of employer and commercial policy.

Numbers, however, are still expected to fall, as they have in recent years since 2015.

(Feature image, courtesy of Flickr)