HARTFORD, CT — Despite ongoing attempts by the Trump administration to undermine the Affordable Care Act, new data from the Center Medicare and Medicaid Services suggests that final enrollment numbers nationally have not dropped significantly over the past year.
The federal government reported Tuesday that 11.8 million consumers either enrolled or re-enrolled in healthcare.gov or one of the 11 exchanges across the country.
The report called this year’s enrollment “cost effective” in part because the advertising budget was slashed from $100 million to $10 million. The tax bill passed in December eliminated the individual mandate, as well, but its impact is uncertain since it happened after the open enrollment period ended.
The report found premiums have more than doubled since 2013 in the individual market and more than half of counties in the United States offer only one health insurance provider.
For those in the federal marketplace monthly premiums before tax subsidies rose an average of 30 percent from $476 to $621.
However, that doesn’t mean consumers were actually paying more for their insurance. The elimination of the cost-sharing reduction subsidies may have increased premiums in silver plans, but it also increased the amount of federal tax subsidies for a majority of consumers.
That means those who received subsidies actually saw a drop in what came out of their pockets for their monthly premium payments. The average monthly premium paid by subsidized customers on HealthCare.gov dropped from $106 to $89 this year. The report shows that approximately 83 percent of consumers nationwide had their premiums reduced by tax credits.
HealthCare.gov consumers who were not eligible for premium subsidies chose a plan on average that was 18 percent less expensive than those receiving subsidies.
Despite a 400,000 dip in enrollment on the national level, Connecticut actually enrolled more people this year than it did last year through Access Health CT, the state’s exchange. The state enrolled almost 2.3 percent more people.
In January, “In a very challenging year, we had a very successful year,” Access Health CT CEO James Wadleigh said.
The fiscal year 2019 budget blueprint released by the Department of Health and Human Services called for a $403.6 million cut to the operations budget for the CMS and a transition to “Market-based” state exchanges. Such a movement is in line with continued attempts by the Trump administration to dial back funding for federal exchanges, even as Congressional attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act continue to fall flat.
A Kaiser Health Tracking Poll released Tuesday found that the population who buy their insurance through the ACA marketplace report being satisfied with the insurance options available to them during the most recent open enrollment period and more than half give the value of their insurance a positive rating.
An estimated 32 percent of those polled experienced problems while trying to renew or buy their coverage and six in 10 marketplace enrollees say they are worried about the possible lack of health insurance coverage in their areas.
The poll of more than 2,500 individuals also found that 90 percent of those polled plan to purchase their insurance through an exchange in 2019.
In Connecticut, insurance rates for 2019 for the individual and small group market won’t be submitted to the Insurance Department until July 16.