The Trump administration is touting its success running a program it has actively tried to end, as a number of ObamaCare plans will be cheaper in the upcoming open enrollment period.
According to new administration figures, average premiums for Affordable Care Act insurance plans will decrease 4 percent in 2020, and there will be more insurers participating in states that use the federal exchange.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, there will be 175 different insurers offering plans in 2020, compared to 132 in 2018. Only two states will have a single insurer in 2020, compared to five states that had only one insurer in 2019.
Two years ago, there were dozens of counties at risk of not having any ObamaCare plans, although some insurers eventually stepped in to sell coverage.
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But in 2019 there was an increase in the numbers of insurers and that number will continue to rise in 2020.
Out of the 38 states that use the federal healthcare.gov website, 15 states have more insurers participating in 2020 than 2019, and 28 states have counties with more insurers in 2020 than 2019 due to new insurers entering, and existing issuers expanding service areas, the administration said.
The health law’s seventh open enrollment season begins Nov. 1, and while Trump administration officials openly decry the law, they also said they are focused on making it work.
“The ACA simply doesn’t work and it is still unaffordable for far too many. But until Congress gets around to replacing it, President Trump will do what he can to fix the problems created by this system for millions of Americans,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters.
Azar said the reduced premiums and increased plan options are evidence that the administration’s policies — like cutting the open enrollment period, expanding short-term plans and promoting the elimination of the law’s individual mandate — have helped, not “undermined” the law as critics say.
But experts argue this year’s numbers are more of a market correction than anything else. In 2017, insurance companies implemented massive double-digit premium hikes, citing concerns about the elimination of the individual mandate, short-term plans and cuts to ObamaCare’s outreach and advertising budget.
Now though, the market has stabilized and is profitable. Insurers already priced for the changes, and premiums are coming down.
“Insurers feel they’ve weathered the worst of the storm,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.
This year though, insurers could be grappling with the fallout of the Texas ObamaCare lawsuit, if a federal appeals court rules the law is unconstitutional. Azar dismissed that as a concern.
If the law is struck down, Azar said there will likely be an appeal to the Supreme Court, and the ruling would likely be stayed, meaning the law would remain in place.
“There would be no disruption for the enrollment period,” Azar said. “We will run the program the day after such a ruling the way we ran it the day before.”