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Deadline Looms To Sign Up For Obamacare Insurance

As the deadline for the Affordable Care Act approaches, the Trump administration pulled $5 million in advertising about the deadline. File photo of President Donald Trump during the inaugural parade. (Barry Bahler, Department of Homeland Security)

The final day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is Tuesday.

The deadline comes as the future of the law is in question. One of Trump’s first executive orders directed federal agencies to stop issuing regulations that would expand the law’s reach. The Trump administration also pulled $5 million in advertising for the deadline. Experts say that’s a problem because younger, healthier adults tend to sign up near the deadline and need a reminder.

Former Obama officials immediately accused the new administration of “sabotage.” Calling the decision “outrageous,” former HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan said in a statement that the move could keep young, healthy people from getting into the insurance pool, thereby driving up costs.

“We know that more young people enroll during the final days of open enrollment, but they need to be reminded of the Jan. 31 deadline,” Counihan said.

The Health and Human Services Department said in a statement that the government has pulled back about $5 million in ads as part of an effort to cut costs. The statement said HHS has already spent more than $60 million to promote sign-ups this year under former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

HealthCare.gov and its state counterparts offer subsidized private health insurance for people who don’t have access to coverage on the job. This year the online insurance markets have been rocked by sharply higher premiums and dwindling choice of insurers, although nearly 9 in 10 customers receive final assistance.

President Donald Trump and leading Republicans have portrayed the markets as on the verge of collapse, and have cast their own effort to repeal and replace the Obama health overhaul as a rescue mission. Most independent experts say the situation is not as dire, although fixes are needed to strengthen the markets.

Some 11.5 million people had signed up nationwide through Dec. 24, or about 290,000 more than at the same time during the 2016 enrollment season. It’s not clear, however, whether the Obama’s administration’s goal of 13.8 million enrolled for 2017 will be met.

More than 20 million people have gained coverage since the health care law passed in 2010, bringing the nation’s uninsured rate to a historic low of around 9 percent. In addition to subsidized private insurance, the law offers states an option to expand Medicaid for low-income people.

Florida leads the nation in getting insurance through the Affordable Care Act with 1.6 million signups. Most of those signing up are getting subsidies for plans to make them cheaper. Subsidies average $330 a month. Nearly a quarter of newly enrolled adults are under the age of 34.

The advertising cutback was first reported by Politico.

WMFE Health Reporter Abe Aboraya contributed to this report



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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

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