ACA Open Enrollment Expected To Provide Stable Premiums, More Choices For Consumers

ACA Open Enrollment Expected To Provide Stable Premiums, More Choices For Consumers

The AP  (10/31, Alonso-Zaldivar) reports that ACA open enrollment starts today “amid stabilizing premiums and more choice for consumers.” The article says overall, “average premiums are going up only by low single-digit percentages for 2019. In some states, and for some types of plans, premiums will decline.” Meanwhile, fewer consumers are expected to see higher premiums, and several insurers are expanding to new cities and/or states. The AP adds that it may “be more difficult finding help in enrolling, after the Trump administration sharply scaled back funding for sign-up counselors known as ‘navigators,’” although “independent community groups still guide consumers through the paperwork.” Another important change is the fact that the ACA’s individual mandate will no longer be in effect as of January 1, 2019.

Likewise, the Washington Post  (10/31, Goldstein) reports that the next ACA open enrollment season will feature “more stable health plan choices and rates, plus significant tests of the effects of recent Republican moves to undercut parts of the law.” The article says this will be the first time since the law took effect that consumers will not be penalized for not having healthcare coverage. In addition, this will be the first enrollment season “since the Trump administration has been taking steps to circumvent the ACA’s insurance requirements, making it easier for individuals to buy two inexpensive types of insurance that cover less care and lack certain popular consumer protections.” The Post quotes CMS Administrator Seema Verma as saying, “We have been working tirelessly to fulfill the promises we made to stabilize the market.”

Bloomberg News  (10/31, Tozzi, Dodge) reports that consumers seeking to purchase ACA plans this year will “find that health-care coverage prices are high but largely stable, after months of tinkering by the Trump administration.” The article says although many of the ACA’s “core elements remain intact, other pieces have been weakened or removed.” President Trump vowed “to ‘let ObamaCare implode,’ and cut some of the law’s subsidies,” while Congress repealed “a mandate to buy coverage, and the administration has promoted cheaper plans with fewer benefits.” Overall, “the premium for typical plans in the 39 states that use the federal healthcare.gov website will drop 1.5 percent in Trump’s third year in office, the administration said.” HHS Secretary Alex Azar is quoted as saying the President “took decisive action to stabilize insurance markets and expand choices for American consumers.”

NPR  (10/31, Kodjak) reports that “the shopping and buying experience will vary widely, depending on where people live. In California, for example, where political leaders have always been supportive of the Affordable Care Act, legislators have allocated $100 million for outreach.” However, “in states that rely on the federal government’s insurance exchange – mostly conservative states whose leaders opposed the ACA – there won’t be nearly as much outreach to potential customers.”

The New York Post  (10/31, Fredericks) also covers the story.