President Donald Trump’s sabotage of the Obamacare program caused health insurance premiums to increase for everyone, according to a study from researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina.
Trump issued an executive order effectively killing the Obamacare individual mandate as soon as he took office and soon canceled TV and radio ads urging people to enroll, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The researchers at Duke and UNC found that enrollment fell by 30% in the final two weeks of the open enrollment period in 2017 compared to the same period a year earlier under President Obama.
“The lack of political support for the law by the incoming administration seemingly had an immediate and significant downward effect on Marketplace enrollment nationwide,” the researchers wrote.
According to the study, the drop in enrollment was enough to account for 1% to 2% in increased insurance premiums for everyone else.
Prices rise as healthy people eschew insurance:
The drop-off was largely among healthier and younger individuals, which insurance pools rely on to keep healthcare costs in check. Without younger and healthier people paying into the system, everyone else has to pay higher premiums.
“Folks who know that they are likely to incur ... $100,000 or more in claims are very likely to sign up for health insurance that is community rated, guarantee issued and heavily subsidized no matter what the messaging regime is…. They will crawl through glass for coverage,” Duke researcher David Anderson explained in a blog post. “Folks who think it is likely that they will be in the bottom 50% of the US healthcare spending distribution ($0-$1,000 in total spend) tend to enroll late. They are the ones who need strong encouragement to go onto the Exchanges and buy.”
According to The Brookings Institution, the late enrollees are usually 15% to 27% cheaper to cover than the insurance pool as a whole.
Trump’s sabotage on Obamacare backfired:
Trump “cut outreach, advertising and enrollment assistance to the bone for 2018 and later kept pressure on congressional Republicans to repeal the law,” Michael Hiltzik wrote in The Los Angeles Times. “He’s moved to widen access to junk insurance plans that the ACA aimed to eradicate, with the fatheaded claim that because they’re cheaper they must be better for consumers. As recently as this weekend, he claimed to have a replacement law in the works.”
But “not all of these steps have worked out as Trump expected,” he explained.
“His cancellation of reimbursements to insurers for premium and deductible subsidies they’re required to offer the poorest enrollees led to an increase in federal premium subsidies generally, which actually made most ACA plans more affordable for subsidized consumers,” Hiltzik wrote. “And the steady drumbeat of threats against Obamacare has actually made it more popular among the general public, which has become fully alive to how Republican repeal would jeopardize their health insurance coverage.”