Obamacare enrollment is down again this year. That’s not a surprise given that the individual mandate has been repealed but the preliminary numbers show a relatively modest drop of about 4 percent compared to last year. From CNBC:

Obamacare signups fell for a second year to 8.5 million as changes made by the Trump administration to scale back the health-care law took hold and legal challenges left the fate of the Affordable Care Act in question, according to new federal data released Wednesday.

Approximately 8.8 million people signed up for coverage at the same time last year, according to the CMS. The agency added that the numbers released Wednesday are preliminary and do not represent final fiscal 2019 figures…

The final open enrollment tally dropped by 4 percent, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the program for 39 states.

Earlier this month, the federal numbers were down about 11 percent. However, as I said at the time, it was always expected that there would be a surge in the final week which would close some of that gap. Sure enough, that’s what happened. The final numbers won’t be out for another week and Charles Gaba at ACA Signups says it’s likely the numbers will drop a bit between now and then.

Last year CMS modified the official QHP selection total downwards by around 79,000 enrollees the week after the Week 7 report was released for various reason, mostly due to people making last-minute cancellations to their renewals or having their enrollment applications denied due to problems with legal residency verification or other data matching problems.

So expect something similar this year. The final numbers won’t change much but should remain over 4 percent. However, there are still 11 states plus DC to add into that total. In a post published yesterday, Gaba predicted the finally tally from those 12 exchanges would be just slightly above last year. If that’s true then the overall decline may be around or just under 4 percent, but we won’t know for more than a month as some states have an enrollment that lasts through January.

As I’ve said many times, zombie Obamacare will never really die. As long as the federal government is paying for most or all of people’s health insurance, there will be millions of people happy to take that money. This isn’t a sign that Obamacare is working as expected. It’s a sign that people like free stuff or, more accurately, stuff that someone else is paying for in the form of taxes.