The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly called “Obamacare,” came into law under President Obama in 2010. It requires all adults to maintain health insurance coverage for at least nine months out of every year or else pay a tax of 2.5% of your income. Since the inauguration of President Trump, the country has wondered as to the future of Obamacare. In Kansas City, at least, the change in administration has done nothing to deter citizens from purchasing ACA plans – even with the new deadline that gives people half the amount of time to enroll.
Recent Changes to Obamacare
Last year, President Trump started to tighten the rules and make changes to Obamacare, starting with cutting the deadline to enroll in half. In the official proposal from last February, the administration called for a significant shortening of the “Insurance Exchange” period, or the period of time in which policyholders could sign up for Obamacare. The administration changed the exchange period to November 1st through December 15th, shortening the original plans for open enrollment season by one and a half months.
The dramatic time frame change led many experts to predict much lower enrollment numbers in 2017 than 2016. Researchers assumed the new deadline wouldn’t give people nearly enough time to shop around for plans, make a switch, or enroll for ACA insurance coverage for 2018. Yet, a serious decrease did not occur. Nationwide, the number of people who enrolled far exceeded expectations at 8.8 million – just 0.4 million shy of the 9.2 million who enrolled in 2016. In Kansas City, 2017’s numbers were even higher than enrollment statistics in 2016.
In Kansas, the number of people who signed up for Obamacare totaled 98,919 by the December 15th deadline. This was 139 people more than the 98,780 Kansans who enrolled the year before. Missouri also saw a surprising increase in enrollments, by almost 1,000 people (a total of 245,580 enrollments). The new Trump administration rules and shortened deadline didn’t seem to stop citizens of Kansas City from seeking ACA insurance.
Why People Are Still Enrolling for ACA
The booming enrollment numbers in 2017 surprised everyone and led many to wonder why President Trump’s new rules didn’t result in the predicted decrease in sign-ups. It certainly wasn’t the great amount of federal ACA advertising, since the Trump administration cut the advertising budget by 90%. Instead, many believe private ads from nonprofit healthcare groups helped to spread the word about the shorter sign-up period, so that most people knew they had limited time before the clock started ticking.
The odds were especially stacked against Kansas City enrollees, after the local Blue Cross Blue Shield announced that it pulled out of Obamacare just a few months before the November enrollment period began. Blue Cross members had a short amount of time to replace their coverage, which would expire at the end of 2017. Still, it would appear that most policyholders rallied and managed to enroll in ACA by the deadline. If you’re curious about enrolling for Obamacare this year for 2019 coverage, learn about the exchange period in Kansas.
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