CMS Obamacare report reveals drop in unsubsidized enrollment

Enrollment of people who are ineligible for subsidies on the individual healthcare market appears to be slowing down, according to a recent report from CMS. In fact, enrollment dropped 1.2 million, or 24%, from 2017 to 2018, according to CMS.

Those who did qualify for subsidies based on income levels saw a 4% increase of 330,000 in enrollment over the same time period, according to the report. Enrollment across the entire individual market dropped 7% nationally from 2017 to 2018. During that time, premiums increased 26%, CMS wrote.

However, between 2018 and 2019, premiums actually dropped 1%. In addition, 10.6 million people overall signed up on the Obamacare exchanges in 2019, more than the entire pre-ACA individual market.

States with the largest drop in unsubsidized enrollment included: Iowa (-85%), Georgia (-60%), Nebraska (-59%), Tennessee (-53%) and Virginia (-51%). Overall, nine states lost more than 40% of their unsubsidized enrollment, CMS reported.

In addition, CMS noted that the gap between subsidized enrollment and unsubsidized enrollment has grown larger than ever before.

The Trump administration has taken several steps to undermine Obamacare, including siding with Republicans in a lawsuit that sought to overturn the healthcare law in its entirety. The step was unusual, as the Department of Justice typically defends the rule of law. Since the DOJ did not defend the ACA in the case, courts allowed Democratic states to step up. In late 2018, a federal judge declared the ACA unconstitutional in its entirety, but the law remains intact while the case is pending an appeals process.

In addition, the Trump administration extended short-term limited-duration health plans, which are not required to comply by ACA standards and do not offer comprehensive coverage. While CMS has touted the plans as an affordable alternative to Obamacare plans on the individual market, some lawmakers have called then “junk insurance.”

“As President Trump predicted, people are fleeing the individual market,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. “Obamacare is failing the American people, and the ongoing exodus of the unsubsidized population from the market proves that Obamacare’s sky-high premiums are unaffordable.”