Officials Say Enrollments 3.5% Lower Than Target, Premiums Rose 5%
The Department of Health and Human Services has announced new Obamacare enrollment data that indicate that during the third Open Enrollment period for 2016 coverage, 4.9 million people signed up for coverage. In total, 12.7 million people either signed up or automatically renewed their Obamacare coverage for 2016. Of these, 9.6 million were enrolled through the HealthCare.gov platform, while the others signed up on state-based Obamacare marketplaces. The Hill (DC) reported that despite figures showing millions covered under Obamacare, the data also indicate that enrollment missed, by 3.5%, an agency target of 9.1 million people. That’s the number of Americans that HHS estimated would have “effectuated” coverage by year’s end, meaning “they were paying their premiums.” According to HHS, 8.8 million people “were enrolled at the end of the year instead,” a decline of nearly 25% from the 11.7 million people who were signed up at the beginning of 2015. Still, enrollment as of Dec. 31 was still about 40% above the level in December 2014. That means the ACA “has helped cut the uninsured rate to a record low of under 10 percent,” The Hill said. The same article said HHS also disclosed that the average monthly premium for insurance policies provided for by Obamacare-linked exchanges rose about 5% last year “once financial assistance is factored in.” According to agency, the average premium is $106 a month this year, compared with $101 in 2015. Enrollees who switched plans saved 24% after financial assistance, compared with those who stayed in the same plan, The Hill said. Congressional Quarterly quoted HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell as stating, “Almost 5 million Americans were new to the Health Insurance Marketplaces this year and about 20 million uninsured Americans have gained coverage because of the Affordable Care Act.” She added, “This year’s customers are more engaged and better informed. New customers came in earlier because they wanted a full year’s coverage, and 70 percent of returning customers actively selected a plan.”
What This Means For Small Businesses
Obamacare has caused undue pressure on individuals and small businesses alike. As healthcare consultant and public health professor Christopher Press said in a commentary for the Wall Street Journal, health insurance premium costs only continue to rise under Obamacare. While workers enrolled in employer-provided healthcare plans at large firms have been somewhat shielded from Obamacare-induced healthcare cost increases, no such buffer exists for small businesses, which are eager for relief from rising expenses.
Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.