Despite the uncertainty caused by nearly 10 months of repeal attempts in Congress and rising premiums and insurer exits, the first ObamaCare open enrollment period of the Trump administration has been surprisingly robust.
According to a report in The Hill, the number of people signing up for ObamaCare has surged in the first few weeks of open enrollment this year.
Through the first 18 days, nearly 2.3 million people have signed up for insurance coverage through ObamaCare exchanges, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a number that has outpaced the same period under former President Barack Obama.
Supporters of the health-care law may see it as a good sign, but experts warn that the early numbers don’t necessarily signify a trend. Final enrollment numbers could still be much lower than in the past, they say.
Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, cautioned against drawing conclusions from the early numbers, pointing out that the open enrollment period is much shorter this year. “It’s really hard to generalize from these early enrollment numbers,” he said.
This year, open enrollment was cut in half and ends Dec. 15. Even if sign-ups stayed on pace, they would fall well short of previous years because of the shortened time period.
Standard & Poor predicted earlier this month that enrollment could drop by as many as 1.6 million people below last year’s level of 12.2 million signups, in part due to uncertainty from the administration’s actions.
According to Levitt, much of the success of open enrollment also depends on how large the surge in sign-ups is as the deadline approaches. He says that the deadline surge this year would need to be “quite large” in order to maintain steady enrollment from previous years.
Many of the administration’s actions may also be spiking early enrollment, according to some health experts.
President Trump has claimed ObamaCare is “imploding” and signed an executive order that instructed agencies to loosen ObamaCare rules. He has also slashed advertising and outreach dollars by 90 percent.