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ObamaCare enrollment slows in fourth week

ObamaCare enrollment slows in fourth week
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Nearly 2.8 million people signed up for ObamaCare plans during the first 25 days of open enrollment, but the rate of sign-ups has slowed, the Trump administration announced.

The fourth week resulted in just over 504,000 people selecting plans, compared with just under 800,000 people during the third week.

That number was also down from the 876,788 who signed up during week two, and the 601,462 who signed up during the first week of open enrollment.

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Still, the total number of people signing up has exceeded the first 25 days of last year, when about 2.1 million people selected coverage.

While more people are signing up for ObamaCare in the initial weeks, the final numbers could fall short of previous years because the enrollment period ends Dec. 15, meaning people only have about half as much time to sign up as last year.

The strong numbers so far come despite cuts the Trump administration made to ObamaCare's advertising and outreach budget.

The initial surge has also put the administration, which has long claimed the health law is failing, in a difficult spot.

But Trump officials are refusing to share what their enrollment targets are, a break in practice from the Obama administration.

If the final enrollment numbers are significantly lower than in the past, it could feed into the GOP narrative that ObamaCare is failing, and bolster new congressional repeal efforts.

The numbers come as the Senate is preparing to vote on a tax-reform package that could repeal the law's individual mandate, which requires that Americans must have health insurance or pay a fine.

If the bill passes and the mandate is repealed, health experts worry it would decrease choices and result in decreased enrollment as insurers would either drop out of the market or massively increase premiums.

President Trump in a closed-door meeting with GOP senators on Tuesday said he would support two proposals meant to stabilize ObamaCare’s insurance markets in exchange for a mandate repeal.

The two bills would fund key ObamaCare insurer payments, and provide billions to help states create reinsurance programs for high-cost patients.