- A report released Wednesday shows that 12.2 million people signed up for health insurance in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges for 2017, which is down from the 12.7 million who signed up the previous year.
- It was a substantial drop from the prediction of President Barack Obama’s administration, which predicted 13.8 million would sign up for insurance for 2017. This is attributable at least in part to President Donald Trump’s decision to halt advertising in the final weeks of enrollment, which is typically the busiest.
- The data show that about a third of those signing up were new enrollees and nearly 90% qualified for financial assistance in the form of monthly premiums.
The Trump administration was criticized for pulling all advertising of the final days of open enrollment in the ACA for 2017 immediately after taking office. The numbers show the move had some affect, as last-minute enrollment was down from previous years.
The report comes as Congress is debating a Republican plan to replace the ACA. It would offer tax credits based mostly on age to help people buy insurance, resulting in far less assistance for those with lower incomes. The high number of 2017 enrollees who qualify for premium subsidies under the ACA underscores how that dramatic change could affect future enrollment.
But the relatively steady number of enrollees is a good sign for the stability of the individual market, even though the future of the ACA is very much in doubt. The Trump administration has taken some steps to try to keep the market stable, even as major insurers have pulled out of the exchanges because of declining revenues.