Trump’s own figures show that Obamacare is working well for the vast majority of enrollees
President Trump brags that he has “gutted” the Affordable Care Act, but statistics released this week by his own Department of Health and Human Services show that it’s holding up well against his onslaught, with nearly 90% of all enrollees experiencing affordable, stable or even declining premiums.
The exceptions are enrollees earning too much to receive premium subsidies. They’re getting hammered by premium increases overwhelmingly caused by Trump policies. Consequently, they’re being forced out of the health insurance market in droves.
Who are they? They’re in households earning more than 400% of the federal poverty line, which would be $48,560 for an individual and $100,400 for a family of four.
“The high-price plans on the individual market are unaffordable and forcing unsubsidized middle-class consumers to drop coverage,” Seema Verma, administrator of HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said Monday.
As ACA expert Charles Gaba riposted on his blog, “Instead of hurting lower-income enrollees (which was [Trump’s] intent), he ended up helping them … while hurting middle-class enrollees (unsubsidized) instead. … Your boss shot the wrong hostages.”
Overall, according to the figures released by the agency, 10.6 million Americans had signed up for ACA coverage by February and paid their first month’s premium. That was about 3% ahead of the 10.3-million enrollment at the same moment in 2017, the agency said.
The increase came in the face of Trump administration policies that would have the effect of discouraging enrollment. Among other steps, Trump last year canceled reimbursements due insurers for reductions in out-of-pocket costs for their lowest-income customers, which resulted in a raft of premium increases for 2018. He also reduced the open-enrollment period for 2018 policies from three months to six weeks, and slashed the marketing and outreach budget for the ACA by about 90%, so information about the open-enrollment cutback was harder to come by.
Uncertainties about Trump policies and a years-long effort by congressional Republicans to repeal the ACA injected more uncertainty into the individual market. Those factors alone prompted insurers to raise 2018 rates by an average of 17% nationwide, Gaba has estimated.