Transcending politics, Trump's core supporters love ObamaCare

Transcending politics, Trump's core supporters love ObamaCare
© Getty

Surpassing nearly everyone's expectations, more than 8.8 million Americans signed up for ObamaCare this year. Simple marketplace demand prevailed over convoluted Republican attempts to deter enrollment and repeal ObamaCare. With generous federal subsidies offering significant savings, Obama's signature healthcare law may have provided the best economic deal for millions of Americans, transcending politics.

Even Trump's own supporters could not resist signing up. 

In an ironic twist of events, more than 80 percent of Americans enrolling in ObamaCare this year come from states that Trump won in the 2016 election. The top four states with the largest number of sign-ups, namely Texas, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina all hail from the deep red South and all went for Trump.

In retrospect, this should not come as a surprise. The same voters who propelled Trump to an Electoral College victory, mainly the older white voters in rural America and whites without a college degree, are the same groups of people who stand to benefit the most from ObamaCare.

This is especially the case in rural areas where healthcare costs are higher due to fewer insurance companies offering coverage. Less competition leads to higher premiums, an issue ObamaCare specifically remedies with federal subsidies. Trump's own supporters therefore put their economic self-interest over their allegiance to party politics. They chose the cheapest health insurance available that offset these unfair costs. 

They chose ObamaCare.

This phenomenon isn't isolated to one strong year alone. In fact, since the law was enacted more than 1.7 million rural Americans obtained coverage under ObamaCare for the first time, plummeting the rural uninsured rate by almost 40 percent. A five-year study by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 87 percent of Americans obtaining coverage through ObamaCare did not have a college degree. 6.2 million of them were non-college educated whites, the same people who voted for Trump by a historic 39-point margin in 2016.

Given the evidence, it is beyond remarkable that Trump continues to sabotage the very healthcare law that benefits his supporters the most. Just like his near daily tweets boasting about stock market gains and the economy, Trump has on multiple occasions bragged about essentially repealing Obamacare. Unfortunately, it is not all bluster. He has taken multiple concrete steps to make that happen. 

In October, he announced that his administration would stop making cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments. CSRs are federal subsidies that help the lowest-income Americans obtain affordable health insurance on the individual market, especially if they are unable to obtain it through the their employer or through the government. It also helps them pay deductibles and out of pocket costs. Trump's decision to stop these payments is already causing premiums in the individual marketplace to rise next year, as insurance companies need to make up for these lost subsidies.

Moreover, starting in 2019 the Tax Reform and Jobs Act will overturn the individual mandate, likely crippling the individual insurance plans under the private ObamaCare exchanges. Without the mandate's tax penalty, healthy individuals would no longer have any incentive to purchase health insurance. Only the sickest individuals would be participating in the market, which would both raise premiums and encourage insurance companies to pull out of such high-risk pools. 

This year may be the last year we see such a surge in signups because many of the actions President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE has taken to sabotage ObamaCare do not take effect until the next fiscal year. Illogically, he is hurting the very coalition of voters who propelled him to office. While he seems to have no trouble taking credit for the booming economy he inherited from the previous administration, Trump is almost spiteful about the widely popular healthcare law his predecessor championed.

Unfortunately for the millions of hardworking Americans who depend on ObamaCare for affordable health coverage, Trump is dead set on making America sick again, especially for those who voted for him. His own core supporters put the health and economic interests of their own families over petty politics. As President of the United States, it is beyond tragic that Trump cannot do the same.

Dr. Eugene Gu is a resident physician at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and president of the Ganogen Research Institute. He graduated from Stanford University with honors and holds an M.D. from the Duke University School of Medicine.