In the coming months, you will likely notice a decrease in the number of Healthcare.gov ads. While you might attribute this to the fact that open enrollment ended in January, there may be more to the story. President Trump pulled funding for the ads, a decision that will affect the number of people who sign up for health insurance outside of enrollment in the coming months.
Fewer Ads May Lead to Higher Premiums
In a statement released at the end of January, the Health and Human Services Department said that the government had pulled more than $5 million in funding from Healthcare.gov ads. This statement came hot off the news that the department spent close to $60 million dollars this enrollment season in ads to encourage people to sign up for health insurance.
The Trump administration claims that funding for ads was an attempt to save money. Former Healthcare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan, however, believes that President Trump had other motives. While talking to CNBC, he said that this move was nothing short of “sabotage.” Counihan insisted that the Trump administration was attempting to reduce sign-ups by cutting back on the number of ads that people saw. Initial estimates suggested that pulling ads could lower how many people signed up during the first week alone by several hundred thousand.
To make matters worse, the majority of people who will miss out on enrollment are likely young adults. This demographic is the one that health insurance companies target the most because they are less likely to need high-cost medical care, thereby offsetting the cost of care for older, sicker enrollees. Without gaining low-risk clients, insurance companies will face mounting pressure to continue jacking up premiums.
Funding Cut Means Fewer Healthcare.gov Sign-ups
Open enrollment for 2017 ended on January 31, but enrollment continues for people who experience qualifying life events, like getting married, having a baby or changing jobs. Leslie Dach, a former Obama health administrator, echoed what Counihan had to say. She believes that the funding cut is nothing more than an attempt to hide Healthcare.gov from the general public. She also believes that it undermines the entire healthcare system.
The Trump administration has been quick to point out that despite this cut in ad funding, people can still sign up at Healthcare.gov. Trump’s staff also pointed out that the $5 million cut only affected the final push of ads.
Both Dach and Counihan stand behind their statements that the funding cut will have a large impact on Helathcare.gov sign-ups. Counihan said that before this cut, enrollment on Healthcare.gov was way ahead of schedule. More Americans are enjoying the benefit of healthcare coverage, and numbers were high for the 2017 season. But people wait until the last possible minute to sign up for health insurance, a fact that extends to people who need coverage outside of enrollment. Without a push to enroll, many Americans may not realize that their options are extremely limited.
Republicans in Congress are actively working toward replacing the Affordable Care Act, but right now, it’s still the law of the land. Americans must have health insurance or face a penalty, a fact that some people still don’t understand. Cutting ad campaign funding for Healthcare.gov is a good way to muddy the waters even further about the law’s requirement to have coverage.
Affordable Care Act: Failure or Success?
During Trump’s campaign for the White House, he talked a lot about the healthcare industry and how it’s on the verge of collapse. The Trump administration says that people are facing higher premiums and fewer choices. One way that he plans to fix this is to repeal and replace Obamacare.
While healthcare analysts agree that the system is flawed and needs to be fixed, many agree that the situation is not as dire as the Trump administration makes it out to be. Through December 24, nearly 11.5 million people had signed up for healthcare. This is about 290,000 more than during the 2016 enrollment season. As of the close of open enrollment, about 9.2 million people had enrolled in a 2017 plan using the federal exchange at Healthcare.gov. It’s not clear how cuts in ad funding affected the final tally, but it seems likely that fewer advertisements would have an adverse effect on enrollment.
Although the Affordable Care Act has some flawed points, it has succeeded in lowering the nation’s uninsured rate to just 9 percent, the lowest in history. This means that more than 20 million people have obtained healthcare since the law was passed in 2010.
Despite Trump’s apparent attempts to replace the Affordable Care Act, his administration hasn’t made it clear what kind of healthcare plan will replace it. Several proposals are now on the table, including a recent bill that neither Republicans nor Democrats seem to appreciate. Analysts believe that congressional Republicans will be hard-pressed to come up with a plan that not only replaces Obamacare but also maintains the gains in insurance coverage that it has made so far.
Mass Confusion About Healthcare Laws
The cut to advertising funding for Healthcare.gov could also have affected people who still don’t fully understand he current laws. In fact, a poll by Morning Consult found that 35 percent of people don’t know that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same law. The confusion is highest among people between the ages of 18 and 29, and those who make less than $50,000 a year. Unfortunately, these are the same groups that will be affected the most if the Affordable Care Act is replaced.
The poll also asked people what they think will happen if Obamacare is replaced. Around 45 percent didn’t know that repeal could mean the end of the Affordable Care Act. Another 12 percent said that they believe the Affordable Care Act won’t be replaced, and 32 percent said that they don’t have any idea. Furthermore, the survey found that only 61 percent of people know that Medicaid benefits could disappear if the Affordable Care Act is replaced. One out of every six Americans believes that Medicaid won’t be affected by repeal.
Confusion over the healthcare law has been widespread since the ACA was introduced. Some lawmakers believe that those who are trying to replace the Affordable Care Act are using the confusion to their advantage. Instead of referring to the law by its actual name, they use the term “Obamacare” because of its negative association. Lawmakers also say that a number of people aren’t aware that popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act might be removed if it gets replaced. The Trump administration appears to have big plans for healthcare reform. Experts believe that pulling Healthcare.gov funding is just one way to get the ball rolling.