With A Week To Go, ACA Enrollments Are Up, But Far Short Of Last Period

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown at a news conference Friday. [Adrian Ma / ideastream]
“Ignore the background noise,” said Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, about the possibility the GOP tax bill would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate. Friday, December 8. [Adrian Ma / ideastream]
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The deadline to enroll for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace is next Friday, December 15.

The enrollment period, which began on November 1, comes sooner than last time, due to the Trump administration's decision to cut the signup window in half, from 12 weeks down to six. Still, enrollments are up about 18 percent in Ohio compared to the same time last year, according to an anlysis by Get America Covered, a nonprofit health insurance navigator.

“The numbers we're seeing nationally, including in Ohio, are pretty good,” said Rachel Rosen DeGolia, who volunteers with the Cuyahoga Health Access Partnership to help individuals sign up for coverage. With only one week to go, however, DeGolia said she's worried thousands of people will miss the window. 

“We're very concerned about the folks who wait until the last minute and find out it's too late,” she said.  

So far, at least 80,498 Ohioans have signed up, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. But that's only about a third of the 238,483 individuals who signed up during the last enrollment period

Senate Republicans are hoping to repeal the individual insurance mandate in their latest tax bill, which adds to the uncertainty already driving health insurers to raise premiums for individual health exchange plans an average of 34% in 2018, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance. But even if they succeed, the repeal wouldn't go into effect until 2019.

“Ignore the background noise,” said Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown at a news conference Friday. Even though the long-term viability of the Affordable Care Act would be undermined by a repeal of the individual mandate, Brown said, “Come sign up. We’ll work to fix it later."

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