Early ‘Obamacare’ sign-ups top 600K

Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to take down “Obamacare,” more than 600,000 people signed up for coverage the first week of open enrollment, the government said Thursday.

With only four days of data, experts said it’s hard to discern a trend. But definitely the Affordable Care Act doesn’t seem to be collapsing. If anything, sign-ups for 2018 are on track with previous years.

Figures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services showed 601,462 people signed up Nov. 1-4 in the 39 states served by the federal HealthCare.gov website. Of those consumers, about 77 percent were renewing their coverage, and about 23 percent were new customers, a split that mirrors previous years.

Because sign-ups for states running their own health-insurance markets are not included in the early data, overall national enrollment is guaranteed to be higher.

“It’s quite clear that the ACA is still functioning, and functioning reasonably well,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Sign-ups on a daily basis are up, he added.

Enacted under former President Barack Obama, the health care law offers subsidized private insurance to people who don’t have coverage on the job. This year’s enrollment numbers are being closely watched because of the Trump administration’s disdain for the program.

Trump abruptly stopped payments that reimburse insurers for providing lower copays and deductibles to low-income people, contributing to a spike in premiums. His administration cut the sign-up season in half, slashed the advertising budget and dialed back on counselors who help consumers enroll.

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