Reports: Obamacare Enrollment Initially Surges Despite Trump’s Outreach Cuts

Kevin Dietsch/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Since President Trump took office in January, health care experts and advocates have sounded the alarm that his budget cuts and policy changes would severely reduce health insurance enrollment—predicting a dip of more than 1 million people compared to last year.

But so far, according to reports by The Hill and the Washington Post not officially confirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services, the opposite is happening.

More than 200,000 people signed up for a plan when Obamacare’s open enrollment period began on Nov. 1, twice as many as enrolled on day one last year.

An anonymous official at HHS also told the Post that more than 1 million people visited on the enrollment period’s opening day, a more than 30 percent increase in traffic compared with 2016.

Officials at state exchanges reported an uptick as well.

The early numbers are a surprise—contradicting the common wisdom that the Trump administration’s decision to cut the length of the open enrollment period in half, slash funding for outreach by 90 percent and repeatedly declare the Affordable Care Act “dead” in public speeches would sow confusion about the status of the law and depress enrollment nationwide.

HHS told TPM that it does plan to release signup data “snapshots” during open enrollment, but would not confirm when the first reports will be released.


Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.