Obamacare Enrollment Dropped 3-4 Percent This Year

A few states held the Obamacare enrollment period open until January 31, so we’re only now getting final enrollment numbers. Here they are:

It turns out that my optimism about meeting or beating last year’s number was misplaced. There just wasn’t very much additional enrollment after December 15. The only caveat here is that there was an unintended consequence of Donald Trump’s elimination of cost-sharing subsidies: in some states, silver policies became less expensive off-exchange than bronze policies on-exchange. California, for example, actively encouraged customers who didn’t qualify for subsidies to buy policies outside Obamacare. Charles Gaba thinks this probably had a significant effect on Obamacare enrollment, but of course it didn’t affect the net number of people who got health insurance. They just got it somewhere else. We won’t have reliable numbers on this for a while, but it’s something to keep in mind.

All in all, I wish the Obamacare numbers were higher, but a 3-4 percent drop isn’t too bad considering the deliberate sabotage campaign that came out of the White House. Next year could be grim, though, as yet more sabotage combines with the end of the individual mandate to spike premiums again. The war isn’t over yet.