Rather than look to the election results for policy direction on one key issue, perhaps the next president should look to the voters themselves. When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, nearly every stakeholder involved has voted with their feet. Consumers, providers, and even the insurers who helped create Obamacare to profit from a government mandate have all begun to flee from it.
Late last week, earnings reports from major health insurers Aetna and UnitedHealth showed a greater-than-expected decline in enrollments from an already disappointing 2016 result. Jed Graham reported at Investors Business Daily that over 113,000 enrollees had stopped paying their premiums in the third quarter, a 6.6 percent drop that left a combined enrollment of 1.6 million consumers. The two companies account for a sixth of all ACA exchange enrollees, and the trend indicates that national Obamacare enrollment has dropped below 10 million – again.
“On top of that,” Graham reminds readers, “the fourth quarter appears headed toward big enrollment declines as it has in the past, as people take advantage of the law’s 90-day grace period that leaves insurers on the hook even after customers stop paying their premiums.” Last year’s fourth quarter decline was over a half-million people or 5.7 percent. If that repeats, then total enrollment could drop to 9.25 million – well below the worst-case projection from Health and Human Services of 9.4 million.