The Trump administration just spent the last few months waging a bizarre campaign to cripple the Affordable Care Act after congressional Republicans failed multiple times to repeal the law. Americans, however, have been on their toes. ACA enrollments are up 17 percent over the six-week mark from last year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Washington Post reports that much of the increase comes from new enrollees. While the 2018 enrollment numbers are still not on pace to match the total 2017 enrollment numbers, the increase in enrollees should be a signal to the Trump administration that their efforts to punish people who can’t pay private premiums for health insurance are failing – bigly.
The reason that total enrollment won’t reach last year’s levels is that the enrollment season was cut in half this year – from six weeks to twelve weeks – as a part of the Trump administration’s sabotage efforts. At the end of open enrollment last year, nearly 12.2 million people had signed up for affordable plans. Right now, 4.7 million and counting have completed their applications.
So much for a “failed” program. 4.7 million people will have access to affordable health insurance thanks to Obamacare. If the Trump administration didn’t have awful intentions, that number would likely be even higher than last year. The 17 percent rise comes despite canceled advertising and slashed funding to groups who help people across the country sign up for plans.
Thankfully, some noteworthy folks like President Obama stepped in and got the word out. Here’s a tweet from Andy Slavitt, the former head of the Centers for Medicaid Services:
Still, not everyone will get covered this year thanks to some pretty crazy rules. People who earn too much to qualify for government subsidies may not be able to purchase coverage due to the significantly higher cost of available plans. Because the individual mandate still applies, those people who cannot afford the coverage will face fines for not having it. Because of this, many Americans find themselves weighing the cost of the fines against the cost of insurance.
In contrast, many low-income Americans qualify for health insurance with no premium at all this year. This is likely the reason for the influx of new enrollees.
The unlikely gift that may come out of Trump’s attempts to sabotage the ACA is a shift in public opinion. More Americans than ever before are interested in exploring universal health care options. The one thing we can all agree on is, no one should be denied health care because of their income.