By Cash Michaels, contributing writer
The enrollment period to be covered by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) began Nov.1st, and is scheduled to end Dec. 15th, for those hoping to qualify for health care coverage beginning January 1, 2018.
The Trump Administration, which has made no secret of its wish to “repeal and replace” President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, has done everything it can to force the ACA to whither on the vine by cutting the enrollment period from the previous three months, to just 45 days. And it has also cut the $100 million Obama Administration budget to both advertise the open enrollment period, and slashed grant funding efforts for state and community organizations across the nation that reach those in dire need of all that the ACA offers through education and mobilization, by an estimated 90 percent to just $10 million for the entire nation.
And yet, according to recent published reports, Pres. Trump’s efforts to strangle the ACA to discourage participation are coming up short. In fact, based on available numbers, people are enrolling at a higher, faster pace than last year at this time, and there’s every reason to believe that pace will continue the closer Dec. 15th comes.
While no official numbers have been released by the administration yet, The Washington Post (citing sources) reports that, “More than 200,000 Americans chose a plan on Nov. 1st (first day of open enrollment). That’s more than double the number of consumers who signed up on the first day of enrollment last year. More than 1 million people visited HeathCare.gov, the official federal website, the official said, which amounts to roughly a 33 percent increase in traffic compared with 2016.”
This doesn’t account for over a dozen states that have their own health insurance exchanges. However, several states, like California, New York and Connecticut, all say they are seeing more signups over last year as well.
Indeed, those wishing to enroll should go to www.healthcare.gov to qualify for federal tax subsidies to offset the rising cost of health insurance premiums. Those subsidies, better known as APT (Advanced Premium Tax Subsidies), make monthly premiums more affordable for most Americans who apply.
Premiums on some health insurance plans can be subsidized as low as $87.00 per month from a high of $662.00, depending on the type of plan an applicant needs and signs up for.
To make sure Pres. Trump’s efforts to squash the ACA signup period fails, several advocacy groups across the nation, including the NNPA, have stepped forward, making sure that their constituencies are properly informed about all ACA deadlines and requirements.
Some states are stepping up to cover the cost of open enrollment education too, like California, adding $5 million to its efforts.
The question now is, though it’s clear that many Americans are ignoring Trump’s efforts to kill the ACA, just how many of them are young people. There is concern in the health care community that most of the new signups are people who are older and have afflictions, versus young, healthy people who are needed in large numbers in order for the ACA to work properly by design.