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November 30, 2018

Enrolment in Obamacare declines by 13%

Nearly 2.4 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare for the 2019 coverage year using the Healthcare.gov website, a decrease of 13% from 2.8 million a year ago, according to data released by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Data from the Healthcare.gov website, which manages enrolment in Affordable Care Act plans for 39 US states, shows that enrolment in the Obamacare is not encouraging despite passing half of the 45-days signup period. Enrolment started on 1 November.

Pennsylvania witnessed 25% slump in sign-ups, while Missouri and Ohio registered a decline of 25% and 20%, respectively.

Why is Obamacare enrolment down?

Consumer assistance groups, which assist in enrolment, attributed the decline to cut in funding by the federal government which forced these groups to reduce their staff headcounts.

The federal government has allocated $10m in 2018 for navigators who help individuals to sign up for the affordable healthcare coverage. The government spent $36m and $63m in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

Jodi Ray at the University of South Florida said: “We don’t have the people to provide the enrolment assistance nor to do the outreach and marketing to let people know what’s happening.”

She has been managing Florida’s largest navigator programme since 2014.

The decline in enrolment also follows an effort by the President Donald Trump to promote cheaper coverage with fewer consumer protections.

Additionally, Trump administration cut the Obamacare advertising budget as well as period of open enrolment to just six weeks instead of three months.

Some industry experts noted that calculating at a final decline at this stage is not feasible until the new data is issued.

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