Obamacare Enrollment Slows In Final Days As Republicans Debate Repeal

Jon Elswick/AP
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A snapshot of Healthcare.gov enrollment numbers released Friday reveal that sign-ups in the final days of enrollment are down in 2017, when compared to the similar period of 2016.

Between January 15 and 31, less than 400,000 people signed up for plans on the healthcare.gov website used by 39 states, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said. Nearly 700,000 people signed up in the last two weeks of enrollment last year, according to the Washington Examiner.

Altogether, 9.2 million people signed up for healthcare.gov individual insurance plans in the most recent open enrollment period, a decrease of 400,000, according to Bloomberg.

The CMS noted in its announcement that enrollees faced premiums that had increased on average by 25 percent increase since last year, as well as an 28 percent decline in the number of issuers participating.

Republicans, who are currently in midst of plotting an Obamacare repeal, were quick to jump on the numbers to claim that the law had failed.

“The enrollment numbers released today only tell a fraction of Obamacare’s disappointing story — for instance, the fact that these numbers are the result of a law that forces Americans to sign up for insurance they don’t want or need,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said in a statement, according to the Examiner. “These numbers also don’t show that costs are soaring, access to the care people want is shrinking, choices of insurers are dwindling, and taxes are rising.”

However, defenders of the Affordable Care Act pointed to the decision by President Trump’s administration try and pull the final round of television and digital ads for open enrollment, a decision that was met with outcry and partially reversed. According to Politico, the final four days of enrollment featured only about $250,000 per day spent on healthcare.gov ad buys, down from a peak of around $1 million per day between January 24-26.

“The President stopped, and then limited, the outreach and advertising reminding people that the enrollment deadline was nearing. This may have cost about 500,000 additional enrollments,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, one of the groups currently advocating against repeal, in a statement.

The enrollment numbers released Friday did not include the sign-ups in the states that run their own exchange websites. Those states — which also run their own outreach and advertisement programs — report their enrollment separately.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.
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