Health insurance enrollment declined among people who do not qualify for financial help under ObamaCare as premiums rose to make coverage less affordable, new federal data shows.
The data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Monday shows that enrollment declined by 1.2 million people, or 24 percent, between 2017 and 2018 among people with incomes too high to qualify for ObamaCare subsidies.
The data illustrates that while ObamaCare remains stable given the subsidies available to lower-income people, premium increases helped drive away people with higher incomes, experts said.
“As premiums have risen recently, middle-class people have taken it on the chin,” Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, wrote on Twitter. Premiums increased by 26 percent between 2017 and 2018, the report found.
New federal data shows individual insurance enrollment has increased among people eligible for ACA subsidies but declined among people who are not eligible. As premiums have risen recently, middle-class people have taken it on the chin.https://t.co/flfi8Ffldw pic.twitter.com/9sJS2N7V5k— Larry Levitt (@larry_levitt) August 12, 2019
Among people who do qualify for ObamaCare subsidies, those making below about $100,000 for a family of four, the picture is far more stable.
The data shows 10.6 million people had coverage on the ObamaCare exchanges as of February 2019, about the same number as the year before.
And after years of steep increases, average ObamaCare premiums actually declined by 1 percent between 2018 and 2019, as many insurers stopped losing money in the market.
The Trump administration pointed to the enrollment declines among people not getting subsidies to argue ObamaCare is failing.
“As President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE predicted, people are fleeing the individual market,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Obamacare is failing the American people, and the ongoing exodus of the unsubsidized population from the market proves that Obamacare’s sky-high premiums are unaffordable.”
Cynthia Cox, another Kaiser Family Foundation expert, pointed out that the individual market for health insurance, including both those who receive and do not receive ObamaCare subsidies, is still larger than it was before the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“There are about 10.6 million people signed up ON the exchange markets in early 2019,” she wrote on Twitter. “Plus, there are a few more million people signed up OFF-exchange.”
“Pre-ACA, the entire individual market was about 10.5 million people,” she added.