Sign-ups for Obamacare health plans will climb 8.7% for next year, showing steady growth for the insurance markets created by the Affordable Care Act, according to US government projections.
By the end of the 2017 enrollment period, about 13.8 million people will have picked individual health plans through the ACA’s exchange marketplaces, the Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement.
Sign-ups for Obamacare health plans start on Nov. 1, and the administration is trying to entice more uninsured people to enroll while keeping the already-insured from dropping their plans. Getting more people to buy the coverage may help stabilize a marketplace that’s seen double-digit premium hikes as insurers including UnitedHealth Group Inc., Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. have begun pulling many of their offerings.
The enrollment forecast released Wednesday falls short of the Congressional Budget Office’s March estimate that 15 million people would get coverage from the health law’s markets next year. The office provides independent economic analyses of laws and government programs. Still, HHS’s prediction is more optimistic than that of S&P Global Ratings, which has estimated that 11.7 million to 13.3 million people would pick plans.
For more on why 27 million are still uninsured under Obamacare, click here.
Passed in 2010, the ACA is among President Barack Obama’s key domestic policy achievements and has become a point of contention in the presidential race. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has called for bolstering subsidies to help more people buy coverage. Donald Trump, her Republican opponent, has said he’d repeal Obamacare while working to ensure that people were still able to find health insurance.
Some people aren’t buying ACA plans because of their cost, according to a Commonwealth Fund study. A separate report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about 5.3 million of the uninsured may be eligible for financial subsidies to help them buy ACA coverage. Another 6.4 million of the 27.2 million who are uninsured may qualify for Medicaid, according to Kaiser.
The administration has said its outreach strategy will focus on affordability, emphasizing that many people can find Obamacare plans that cost between $50 and $100 a month after subsidies. The government also plans to remind people that they may be penalized for going uninsured, a message that it’s found helped boost enrollment in the past.
A study from McKinsey & Co. found that outreach efforts make just 24% of the uninsured more likely to enroll. The remaining people are less likely to enroll, in part because they tend not to use health care or don’t regard being insured as important, according to the study.
“They basically say, you know what, I’ve looked at this, and frankly the economics don’t really work out for me,” said Jenny Cordina, a McKinsey partner. “In some cases, it’s that they just don’t think they need insurance.”
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