Obamacare 2018 enrollment clouded by
uncertainty under Trump
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[November 01, 2017]
By Yasmeen Abutaleb
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As Americans begin
signing up for Obamacare health insurance plans on Wednesday, experts
expect reduced participation as a bitter political debate clouds the
Republicans in Congress have repeatedly failed to repeal and replace
former President Barack Obama's healthcare law, which they have said
drives up costs for consumers and interferes with personal medical
decisions. Democrats have warned that repeal would leave millions of
Americans without health coverage.
President Donald Trump promised to kill the law in his 2016 election
campaign, and he has taken executive and administrative actions to
"The market's going to be extremely confusing. There's going to be
entire complexity of choice," said David Anderson, a health policy
researcher at Duke University.
The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, estimated this
week that 2018 enrollment would have held steady from 2017, with 12.2
million people signing up for individual health coverage under the
Affordable Care Act had there not been administration efforts to
The Trump administration has cut the 2018 enrollment period in half to
six weeks from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 for states using the federal
Healthcare.gov website. Enrollment previously ran until Jan. 31, and
many consumers often signed up in the last two weeks, according to state
officials and organizations that help people choose insurance.
Senate Republicans and Democrats are working on legislation to stabilize
Obamacare markets in the short term, but the nonpartisan Congressional
Budget Office has estimated that about 1 million fewer people will
enroll for 2018 plans due to Trump policies.
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A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as
Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in
this October 2, 2013 photo illustration. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File
The administration has cut off billions of dollars in subsidies that
insurers use to discount out-of-pocket medical costs for low-income
Americans, slashed Obamacare advertising and cut funding to groups
that help people enroll in health insurance. Several insurers have
exited Obamacare markets due to concerns over subsidies and other
The Department of Health and Human Services said on Monday that
premiums for the most popular Obamacare plans would rise 37 percent
in 2018. Americans eligible for Obamacare tax credits to buy
insurance may pay less for coverage, but costs would increase for
middle-class consumers who do not get subsidies.
"It's been such a flood of information. A lot of the population
thinks the Affordable Care Act has already been put under," said
Daniel Polsky, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and
executive director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health
Economics. "The strange premium increases are going to be very
confusing for consumers."
The Trump administration is now planning changes for 2019. Last
week, it proposed a rule giving states more flexibility over the
benefits that must be covered by insurance. Under Obamacare, all
insurers have to cover a set of 10 benefits, such as maternity and
newborn care and prescription drugs.
(Reporting By Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Michele Gershberg)
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