President Donald Trump and others in his party have done everything they can think of to undermine the Affordable Care Act. But it’s still the law, and it’s still available during open enrollment through Dec. 15. And since they won’t tell you, we will: For many Americans, the coverage it offers in 2018 is less expensive than before.
Last month, Trump said the government would stop paying health insurance companies to keep costs down for low-income Americans. He’s announced that the government wouldn’t try too hard to enforce the individual mandate. And he’s said that in the future, companies will once again be able to sell junk insurance, as they did before Obamacare passed. These efforts have made a measurable difference, too.
In fact, presidential sabotage is the primary reason that ACA premiums for 2018 should be shooting up by an average of about a third, instead of the previously expected 5-10 percent. Should be, that is, except for the fact that it’s the government — a.k.a the taxpayer — who will be paying most of the higher costs. That’s because under the ACA, subsidies to individuals increase along with premiums. In fact, many of those eligible for subsidies — all but 15 percent of enrollees — will pay significantly less for coverage than they had before.
That’s the case despite the fact that in all the carefully-sewn confusion, about a million fewer people will sign up during this year’s open enrollment period, which, under Trump, has been cut in half.
Former President Barack Obama is encouraging Americans to sign up anyway. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act,’’ he said in a recent video, “insurance companies can no longer charge you more just for being a woman, or having a preexisting condition. That’s a good thing.”
His successor, meanwhile, continues to put out the opposite message, tweeting last week that “As usual, the ObamaCare premiums will be up (the Dems own it), but we will Repeal & Replace and have great Healthcare soon after Tax Cuts!”
Congressional Republicans have not yet managed to either repeal or replace the ACA, mostly because their legislative attempts to do so were correctly seen to have only exacerbated Obamacare’s problems. Still, some in the GOP continue to try to graft a repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate onto a tax bill.
The president is all for that, too, tweeting, “Wouldn’t it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts,” mostly for the wealthiest Americans.
While Trump tries to confuse the country by declaring that “there is no such thing as Obamacare anymore,” that, in fact, is untrue. And you can enroll now at www.healthcare.gov.