Despite unrelenting Republican attempts to sabotage it, if not downright kill it, seven years after its passage, the Affordable Care Act lives on.
According to preliminary figures released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, about 8.8 million new and returning customers selected 2018 health insurance policies from private insurers on the HealthCare.gov marketplace, which handles ACA online enrollment in 39 states.
The sign-up period on HealthCare.gov closed on Dec. 15. The remaining 11 states run their own ACA enrollment and have deadlines as late as Jan. 31. The cutoff date for Connecticut’s state exchange, Access Health CT, was Dec. 22.
While 8.8 million customers is a decline of about 4 percent from HealthCare.gov’s 2017 open enrollment figures, proponents of the Affordable Care Act have to be pleased with the number. After all, the Trump Administration has done its best to undermine the health insurance law, President Obama’s signature legislation.
Consider this: The Health and Human Services department sliced the ACA's advertising budget by 90 percent this year, and the open enrollment period was cut in half. Also, HealthCare.gov was shut down overnight on the first day of open enrollment, Nov. 1, and for 12 hours during all but one Sunday during the open enrollment season.
We wonder how many more Americans would have health insurance this coming year if the ACA’s advertising budget and open enrollment period had not been greatly reduced, and if President Trump had, from time to time, reminded his 45 million Twitter followers that it was time to sign up for health care.
With little prodding from Washington, Americans still lined up to get Obamacare. Signups were strong even in states which Trump carried in the presidential election.
Of the 8.8 million people signed up for ACA coverage in 2018, 7.3 million of them come from states Trump won.
Clearly, Americans want the peace of mind that maintaining health insurance brings. After all, illness and accidents happen to both liberals and conservatives.
"There's politics, and then there's taking care of yourself and your family," said analyst Chris Sloan of the consulting firm Avalere Health. "You can have political views about a program like the Affordable Care Act, but when you get an opportunity to get subsidized health insurance for you and your family ... politics is a distant consideration."
Obamacare isn’t perfect, but it’s worth saving.
Mr. Trump and his Republican allies would be wise to consider that.