Between Dec. 10 and 15, over 110,000 Missourians enrolled for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, putting the final number over last year’s.
Previous Missourian reporting found that the state was falling behind last year’s numbers, with initial numbers suggesting that enrollment had decreased by almost half.
However, updated figures from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services show that 245,580 people in Missouri had enrolled by the last day of the season, reflecting a surge during the final week. This figure represents 1,198 more people than last year.
These numbers may come as a surprise, given that this year’s season was half as long and not as well advertised as the previous year. This year, the Trump administration slashed the federal advertising budget and cut federal funding for the assisters who help people go through the complicated process of enrollment. That involves more than picking a health plan — consumers also have to estimate their income for next year to qualify for financial help.
“We helped people understand and make sense of the confusion,” Miniea said.
Nationally, about 8.8 million people have signed up for coverage next year under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government said Thursday. Last year, 9.2 million people enrolled for health insurance through healthcare.gov. The surprisingly strong numbers come after a deadline surge last week.
The update came via Twitter from Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Total national sign-ups won’t be known for weeks, as some states with later deadlines continue to enroll customers.
The figure this year had been expected to be much lower than last year, partly because President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress repeatedly tried to take down the entire program.
“This number is higher than anyone expected, and has to be considered a success,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
The numbers come a day after Trump proclaimed that the GOP tax bill “essentially repealed Obamacare.” But the tax overhaul only repealed the health law’s fines on people who don’t carry health insurance, starting in 2019.
Scott Miniea of the Cover Missouri Coalition said people should remember that the individual mandate to get health insurance still applies for 2018, despite the recent passage of the bill. He urged people without insurance to reach out to any member of the Cover Missouri Coalition to see if they qualify for an extended enrollment period.
Maria Callejon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.