Obamacare Enrollment Enters Final Day

Jan 31, 2017
Originally published on January 30, 2017 2:51 pm

While talk of repeal and replace has dominated the recent conversation about the Affordable Care Act, consumers have quietly been signing up in record numbers.  

As open enrollment in the individual marketplace for Obamacare comes to a close on Tuesday, local officials say nearly 1.8 million people in Florida have signed up. 

That's more than the same time last year, despite premium increases, fewer insurers participating in the marketplace and general uncertainty about the future of Obamacare. 

Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids and Families at the University of South Florida, said consumers aren't paying attention to the politics.

"People really want health care and I don't think that changed regardless of what is being discussed out there in the political world," Ray said. "People in the real world know they need to be able to get to a doctor when they get sick and when they get hurt."

Ray said she is concerned about people losing access to health care.

The Affordable Care Act has given people access to health care that didn’t have it before, she said.

“This has had a tremendous impact, especially in Florida, which doesn’t have the Medicaid expansion,” Ray said.  “However, we’ve still been able to enroll so many people over the past four years – in fact, in most cases, more than most states across the country.”

As the deadline approached, the Trump administration pulled $5 million dollars in advertising about the enrollment.

Experts say that’s a problem because younger, healthier adults tend to sign up near the deadline and need a reminder.

Through Dec. 31, Florida lead the nation in Obamacare enrollment with more than 1.6 million signups. The total for the country during the same period was about 8.8 million.

Most of those signing up are getting subsidies for plans to make them cheaper. Subsidies average $330 a month.

Nearly a quarter of newly enrolled adults are under the age of 34.

More than 20 million people have gained coverage since the health care law passed in 2010, bringing the nation's uninsured rate to a historic low of around 9 percent.

USF held an enrollment event last week, just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing his administration to facilitate the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

Katie Vicsik, Florida executive director for Enroll America, said the order was not stopping people from signing up.

“They’re still coming in,” Vicsik said. “It’s great to see because of course when you see stuff like this in the news you’re wondering what the consumer is going to think.”

Consumers have until the end of Tuesday to enroll.