“And there’s no Obama-era policy that he (President Trump) has fought harder to kill than the former President’s signature piece of legislation, Obamacare. After countless failed attempts at killing the bill through legislative means, Trump decided he’d try to kill it by starving it. Its marketing budget? Yeah that went bye-bye. The idea was that if fewer people knew about the enrollment period, then fewer people would sign up for the service, and therefore the pools wouldn’t be full of enough healthy people, who won’t use their coverage much, to offset the cost of the sick people, who will have to use it constantly. It’s a plan that is equal parts devious and terrifying. Which is why it delights me to tell you that it doesn’t seem to be working.
According to The Hill, Obamacare signups during the first few days of enrollment have set new records and have surprised many in the industry.
The surge in sign-ups, which was confirmed by an administration official, comes despite fears from Democrats that enrollment would fall off due to the Trump administration’s cutbacks in outreach and advertising.
On the first day of enrollment alone, Nov. 1, one source close to the process told The Hill that more than 200,000 people selected a plan for 2018, compared with about 100,000 last year. More than 1 million people visited healthcare.gov that day, compared to about 750,000 last year, the source said.” (A)
Among Donald Trump’s more pernicious and oft-repeated lies is that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is imploding. It isn’t. But to the extent that problems are mounting, they are largely his doing. In March, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that “in most areas,” Obamacare’s exchanges were stabilizing, and that most enrollees who received subsidies wouldn’t see their premiums increase significantly. Six months later, the CBO issued another report that, according to CNN, named “several policies the White House is pushing” that will lead “to rising premiums and decreased enrollment in individual insurance markets over the next year.”…
Trump seems to think he knows what he’s up to. He has said on multiple occasions that, as premiums spike and enrollment falls, congressional Democrats will be forced to come to him with hats in hand to negotiate some sort of replacement for Obama’s signature law. That’s a bad misreading of public opinion, which tends to hold the party in the White House responsible for virtually everything. Indeed, a Kaiser poll conducted in August found that 60 percent of respondents think Trump and Republicans would be “responsible for any problems with the ACA going forward,” compared with just 28 percent who said the same of Obama and Democrats.” (B)
“Choosing health insurance can be a hassle under the best of circumstances. But if you get your coverage from an Obamacare health insurance exchange, it’s more important than ever to shop around this year.
There are a lot of changes in store for consumers who buy coverage from HealthCare.gov or state-run health insurance exchanges, such as Covered California and New York State of Health. Premiums will be higher for most people, as usual.
And actions taken by President Donald Trump have driven prices even higher than they would’ve been ― and have made the shopping process more complicated, even for existing exchange customers.
Those actions will make health insurance too expensive for many consumers. But it will also mean better insurance for the same price for others ― or skimpier insurance that could even be free. That may seem strange, and that’s because it is strange, and complicated, which highlights how crucial it is for shoppers to do their homework this year.
Long story short: People who signed up for mid-range “Silver” plans in the past will need to shop around because it might be a worse deal now. A consumer might assume that a Bronze plan is the least expensive, Gold and Platinum are the most costly and Silver is in the middle, and that the generosity of the benefits matches the price. That’s how the law had intended it to work, but it’s not necessarily the case anymore.
In one Los Angeles ZIP code, for example, a 40-year-old could pay $352.59 a month for an unsubsidized Gold plan with zero annual deductible, which is just $13.35 more than a Silver plan from the same health insurance company that comes with a $2,500 deductible. The lowest-cost unsubsidized Bronze plan in that part of the city costs $263.67 and has a $6,300 deductible.” (C)
“It’s time to select a health insurance plan for 2018! Whether we get covered through an employer or the Affordable Care Act exchanges, we’ll be told to carefully review our options to find a plan that will give us the best coverage for the least amount of money.
We will be told we need to shop.
“I encourage you to shop around,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, told her Facebook followers who are choosing plans from the A.C.A. marketplaces. The human resources giant Mercer wrote last year, “This open enrollment, think of employees as shoppers.” The American Diabetes Association, the American Institute of Architects, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Aetna all use the terms in their literature or on their websites.
Make it stop!
This is not shopping. Shopping is a fun activity, like choosing a pie from the bakery or picking out cereal at the supermarket. The farthest thing from “shopping” is the arduous annual ritual of reviewing the complex and all but impossible to decipher health insurance options.
That’s partly because insurers do their best to make the experience as miserable as possible. Many of them offer up less-than-accurate lists of providers and participating institutions. They reserve the right to deny you coverage of a service, and you won’t know if they have until the day you need it — and maybe after the fact. Prospectuses are complex, and few of us fully understand them. Only 9 percent of Americans can properly define all four of these rather vital phrases: health plan premium, health plan deductible, out-of-pocket maximum and coinsurance, according a survey recently released by United Healthcare.” (D)
“Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on Thursday introduced bills that would temporarily suspend the individual mandate under Obamacare, and fund the cost-sharing reduction payments President Trump said he would nix through 2019.
CBS News first obtained the text of Brady’s bill. (Here is the text of the bill as of 7:47 a.m. Wednesday.) Brady is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Hatch is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
The Healthcare Market Certainty and Mandate Relief Act of 2017 places a moratorium on the individual mandate requiring Americans to have insurance from after December 31, 2016 until January 1, 2022, and retroactively nullifies the employer mandate from December 31, 2014, until Jan. 1, 2018.
The legislation also directs the federal government to fund cost-sharing reduction payments for the next two years. Last month, Mr. Trump abruptly announced he would end the cost-sharing reduction payments, which are payments the federal government makes to insurers under Obamacare to keep health costs low for low-to-middle-income families. The legislation, however, prohibits such payments to be given to an issuer of a health plan that includes abortion coverage.
The legislation also increases the maximum contribution limit for health savings accounts.” (E)
“President Trump on Wednesday suggested using the GOP tax bill to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate.
“Wouldn’t it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts,” Trump tweeted.
The idea is being pushed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and also has the backing of House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).
Meadows said Wednesday he supports repealing the mandate in tax reform and thinks “ultimately” it will be included because he is going to push for it. He said he has been talking to Cotton about it.
A Cotton spokeswoman told The Hill that Cotton and Trump spoke by phone about the idea over the weekend and “the President indicated his strong support.” (F)
“President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders falsely claim that Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act, is “exploding” or in a “death spiral. To be sure, the health care law’s marketplaces – where people who lack job-based health insurance, are too young for Medicare and aren’t poor enough for Medicaid can buy comprehensive health insurance – have been Obamacare’s political Achilles heel. They don’t ensure that everyone who liked the health plan they had before the Affordable Care Act would be able to keep it or find a comparable plan in the marketplaces.
But a large and rising majority of enrollees are satisfied with their coverage.
And contrary to critics’ claims, the marketplaces are functioning and, as my Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ colleagues Aviva Aron-Dine and Tara Straw explain, they’ll continue to provide affordable comprehensive coverage to millions of Americans, despite Trump administration sabotage that has driven up the “sticker price” of 2018 exchange premiums and will likely depress sign-ups in the open enrollment period that began this week.
Critics who focus on the sticker price ignore two key facts. First, most marketplace consumers are protected from rate hikes because they qualify for premium tax credits that help them pay for health insurance and that rise when premiums rise. Second, lower-income marketplace consumers are further protected by the health care law’s limits on how much of their income they will have to pay for deductibles and co-payments.
Insurance companies will participate in the marketplaces if they think they can make money based on the premiums they collect and the likely covered expenses of their policyholders. Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires people to have insurance or pay a penalty, is there to increase marketplace enrollment and provide greater stability for insurers.” (G)
(A) Despite Donald Trump’s Best Efforts, Obamacare Signups Are Setting New Records This Year, by JACK MOORE, https://www.gq.com/story/obamacare-signups
(B) Everything Trump Is Doing to Sabotage the Affordable Care Act, by Joshua Holland, https://www.thenation.com/article/everything-trump-is-doing-to-sabotage-the-affordable-care-act/
(C) Under Trump, Obamacare Shopping Is Even More Confusing. We’re Here To Help, by Jeffrey Young, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-obamacare-shopping-confusion_us_59de8645e4b0fdad73b1d75e
(D) Choosing a Health Insurance Plan Is Not ‘Shopping’, by HELAINE OLENNOV. 2, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/opinion/health-insurance-shopping-obamacare.html?_r=0
(E) New GOP bill would halt Obamacare individual mandate, restore subsidy payments, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/here-is-kevin-bradys-bill-to-halt-individual-mandate-restore-subsidy-payments/
(F) Trump suggests repealing ObamaCare mandate in tax bill, by NATHANIEL WEIXEL, http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/358201-trump-suggests-repealing-obamacare-mandate-in-tax-bill
(G) Obamacare Isn’t Exploding, by Chad Stone, https://www.usnews.com/news/economy/articles/2017-11-03/obamacare-isnt-exploding-despite-donald-trumps-sabotage-on-premiums