If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is one of my least favorite topics, but its influence on our economy and politics has been so pervasive that it simply can't be ignored.
The analysis by the consulting firm Avalere Health found that in almost 98 percent of counties served by HealthCare.gov, a 50-year-old making about $18,000 a year would be able to get a basic "bronze" plan for no monthly premium in 2018.
The government's advertising budget is now just $10 million for the 39 states that rely on the federal Healthcare.gov website to enroll consumers.
Sweeny Community Hospital CEO Scott Briner, however, said his hospital will probably see little change in the number of people with insurance because of the shortened enrollment period, but he predicts Trump's decision to slash subsidies will make business more hard for the hospital.
New Yorkers and residents in other states that run their own insurance exchanges are fortunate to have later deadlines.
"I still run into people who are wondering, am I still going to have a plan next year?" Individuals who are re-enrolling on the marketplace are encouraged to re-evaluate and compare plans, as the lowest-cost option can change from year to year. Independence Blue Cross Chief Executive Officer Daniel Hilferty said in an interview. The upside, of course, is that about 3 million people who were not insurable before now are, but to take away about 3 million jobs from the poorest people in the country, and a disproportionate number of them in our region, is too high a price to pay.
The White House has also discontinued the cost sharing reimbursements to insurance companies to help offset rising premiums to consumers.
To help make health insurance affordable, the government uses household income to determine who is eligible for financial assistance.
Others say total sign-ups will drop.
Accidents happen. People get sick. "This will always be the case as insurers enter and exit different markets".
Various insurers say they are trying.
"I support the president because I think Obamacare is imploding and it not only impacts those on Obamacare, but everybody", said Roger Heuring, 58, who lives in New Jersey.
Florida Blue, which has about 1 million members in Obamacare plans throughout Florida, is increasing its grass roots efforts this year.
On the other hand, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MI said it would spend less on wooing customers because of the financial pressures from the lowered subsidies, which went into effect this month. The president's remarks and actions have also scared insurance companies into raising premiums - by about 37 percent for popular "silver" plans, and by smaller amounts for the "bronze" and "gold" plans - because the administration is cutting payments to insurers, and the companies are expecting fewer healthy people to buy coverage.
"We made a decision to try to be as lean as possible", said Rick Notter, director of the individual business. Get twice-daily updates on what the St. Louis business community is talking about.
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