There was good news on Tuesday for millions of lower-income Americans who depend on the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — to provide their health insurance: premiums will go down next year, and the number of insurance companies offering the plans will go up.
The projected 4% price drop for ACA plans in 2020 comes despite President Trump’s ongoing effort to abolish the program.
It will be the second straight year that “average monthly premiums have dropped year-to-year since the marketplace opened in 2014, and it is a sign that the health law is stabilizing after several years of turmoil caused in part by Mr. Trump,” reports the New York Times.
Since the day he took office, Trump has targeted the accomplishments of his predecessor.
At times, tearing down Obama’s legacy — or, as he might put it, “winning” — seemed to be Trump’s chief goal, as if it were some kind of personal contest for glory and admiration.
And at the top of that legacy stood the ACA, which nearly everyone agreed is imperfect, but which substantially reduced the number of Americans lacking health insurance.
“In all, 10.6 million people had health plans through the federal and state marketplace plans as of March,” the Times says, offering the examples that “For a 27-year-old, premiums for a benchmark “silver” plan will cost an average $388 per month next year; for a family of four, they will average $1,520 per month.
“That is still expensive, but most people will qualify for federal subsidies that cover much or most of the cost,” the newspaper says.
The price drop, announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, seemed to be an annoyance for Trump officials opposing the whole program, yet they gave the president credit for making it happen.
“The ACA simply doesn’t work and it is still unaffordable for far too many. But until Congress gets around to replacing it, President Trump will do what he can to fix the problems created by this system for millions of Americans,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
But experts say the declining prices of this year and next are “more of a market correction than anything else,” says Politico, adding that after double-digit premium hikes in 2017, “the market has stabilized and is profitable … [so] premiums are coming down.”
Politico notes that Protect Our Care, a group formed to defend Obamacare, says Trump and his administration deserve “zero credit” for the ACA’s success.
Not only will Obamacare premiums be lower in the coming year, plans will be available to many more people in more places. There will be 175 insurers offering ACA plans in 2020, compared with 132 in 2018.
“Out of the 38 states that use the federal healthcare.gov website, 15 states have more insurers participating in 2020 than 2019, and 28 states have counties with more insurers in 2020 than 2019 due to new insurers entering and existing issuers expanding service areas,” reports The Hill.
Open enrollment for Obamacare starts next week, on Nov. 1, “but looming over it is an impending court decision on the law’s constitutionality in a [Texas] case supported by the Trump administration that seeks to overturn the law,” the Times says.
But even if the ACA is struck down, it is likely to wind up in the Supreme Court, Azar told reporters, meaning “no disruption” for this year’s enrollment period.