There are just 12 more days in an already truncated open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act plans (in most states). There’s no way to make the numbers so far look good, thanks in large part to Trump administration sabotage. Joshua Peck, co-founder of the organization Get America Covered, has the details and the discouraging news: “The number of people signing up for coverage this week doesn’t give us any reason to believe there are any fundamental changes to the trends we’ve seen in past weeks—sign-ups still appear to be on track to lag behind last year’s totals.”
One of the reasons has to be the drastic cuts the Trump administration has made in funding for outreach and advertising. Some states have picked up that dropped ball, and in some others nonprofit groups have stepped into the void. In Indiana, for example, Covering Kids and Families of Indiana has navigators to help in the process. That’s critical help, says the group’s policy director, Mark Fairchild. Navigators “know the ins and outs, they know the process. […] They’ve seen 100 of these applications, whereas for a consumer, it’s probably their first one and it looks very, very daunting. And they walk you through that process step by step.” It is very daunting, he admits freely, even for him. “As much as I’m in this line of work, I don’t always understand my insurance, right? If we’re being honest, most people really don’t all those ins and outs.”
They really don’t. One recent survey showed that more than 50% of people don’t know what the very basic terms “co-payment” and “deductible” mean. More than a quarter say they have avoided getting care because they don’t know if their insurance will cover it. And 13% didn’t even know if they had health insurance. But among those who don’t have it and know they don’t have it, 90% don’t know that it’s open enrollment season for the ACA and that they could get it. So, yeah, that greater-than-80% cut Trump made to the ACA navigator and outreach budget is doing what Trump intended.
All that said, there are still 12 days left in open enrollment, and the resistance can play a part in spreading the word. Get Covered America’s open enrollment toolkit will help where navigators might not be available, providing all the information you need. And, as always, Healthcare.gov is the place to get started.