Donald Trump Accidentally Lowered the Cost of Obamacare. Enrollment Went Up.

A couple of years ago, as part of his temper tantrum against Obamacare, Donald Trump decided to eliminate CSR subsidies. Click here for more details about what this means, but the short story is that Trump thought this was a great way to sabotage Obamacare. However, thanks to the details of how this works—which Trump was naturally ignorant of—it turned out to be a net positive that increased Obamacare subsidies by nearly $200 billion over ten years. Nice work, Donald!

Two years have now gone by, and Andrew Sprung has recently been diving into the whole issue of “silver loading”—i.e., the insurance industry response to the loss of CSR subsidies—and I’ve been following along but not entirely understanding all the nuts and bolts. Today, however, he writes about whether silver loading affects Obamacare enrollment rates. That looks interesting! Does higher silver loading, which provides more bang for the insurance buck, also increase enrollment? Here’s a state-by-state look:

Higher silver loading does indeed increase enrollment. The effect isn’t huge, but as silver loading gets higher, re-enrollment rates also get higher. This is not surprising: when you effectively provide bigger subsidies, which reduces the cost of insurance, more people are likely to enroll. You can click here to read Sprung’s more detailed analysis.

Econ 101 bottom line: if you make something cheaper, more people will buy it. Isn’t that fascinating?


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.