At press time (December 14, 2018), enrollment in Obamacare health insurance plans had dropped by 20 percent compared to the same period in 2017, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Between 400,000 and 500,000 fewer people are believed to have enrolled through an Obamacare exchange in 2018 than in the previous year. The enrollment numbers do not include totals from states that operate their own exchanges or from consumers automatically enrolled in plans during the last week of open enrollment, which ended on December 15 for most states.
Charlie Katebi, a state government relations manager for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Health Care News, says the drop in Obamacare enrollment indicates health insurance options recently made available by the Trump administration, as well as a decrease in unemployment numbers, are at least partially responsible for the enrollment drop.
“The new health insurance alternatives—such as association health plans and short-term, limited-duration insurance—give people the option of making their own decisions about what best suits their individual needs,” Katebi said. “It would appear, if those numbers hold, that people are taking the Trump administration up on their offer of taking a more proactive role in those decisions. The administration also made decisions through tax reform that helped the economy flourish and created jobs, which, in turn, gave more people the opportunity to find coverage through their employer.
“Introducing choice in a market and making administrative decisions that move health care away from government control have contributed to consumers taking advantage of alternative forms of health insurance,” Katebi said.
Cory Compton (thecomptonjr@ gmail.com) writes from Cheboygan, Michigan.