Since November 1, to the astonishment and delight of health care advocates, the daily and weekly pace of Obamacare enrollment has been higher than in previous years.
But a new analysis by the health consulting firm Avalere shows that because the Trump administration slashed the length of open enrollment in half—from 90 to 45 days—signups are actually significantly depressed compared to this point in previous years.
Since taking office in January, the Trump administration has severed enrollment partnerships with hundreds of local and national groups, abruptly ended subsidies to insurance companies, scuttled efforts by Congress to pass a market stabilization bill, and eviscerated the budget for open enrollment outreach and in-person assisters. The President has also repeatedly declared Obamacare “finished … dead … gone,” spreading confusion about a law that very much remained on the books.
But the latest report from the Department of Health and Human Services, released on Wednesday, showed signups continuing at a brisk pace, with more than 2.7 million enrollees so far this year.
As Avalere calculated, however, that number is far below the number of enrollees—7 million—who had selected plans last year after this percentage of the enrollment period had elapsed.
Open enrollment ends this year on December 15.
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.