Obamacare enrollment surges to nearly 30M, Obama says as insurance market is in flux
In the past three weeks, enrollment in Obamacare’s insurance exchanges has grown to more than 30 million people, the president said Friday.
That’s the highest number for the program in five years.
Obamacare is also having a difficult time keeping up with the number of people who have enrolled, Obama said.
He acknowledged that the law’s rollout and the problems with the exchanges are the major challenges, but he added: “The law is working very well.”
The White House said the uninsured rate has fallen to its lowest point since the program began.
The number of uninsured has remained near record lows, but the rate of new insurance applications has increased slightly to a three-year high.
Obama said that for people who had already purchased coverage through the health exchanges, it was a good day to sign up for a new policy, but that it was time to take action to help the economy.
“We’ve got to get going again, but we have to start with those people who want to sign on to their new policies,” Obama said in an interview with CNN.
He said that as more Americans take advantage of the exchanges, they will be less dependent on the federal government.
The president noted that as the economy improves, more people will need coverage.
The Obama administration has struggled to come up with a way to implement Obamacare’s exchanges, which are meant to be a nationwide health insurance exchange and are expected to be fully operational by mid-March.
A federal judge halted implementation of the exchange in March because it was too costly for the federal health care program.
The administration has also had trouble persuading state and local governments to allow them to run the exchanges.
A White House report said in December that it would be expensive to run all of the federal exchanges, but it did not specify how much.
The cost of running the exchanges will also vary from state to state, and Obama said Friday that the federal subsidies will help cover the cost of state exchanges.
Obama also said he was encouraged by the numbers on the new health insurance coverage available through Obamacare’s marketplaces.
“The vast majority of people in the new market are now insured,” he said.
“I’m pleased with that.
I’m also encouraged by that, because it means that people are choosing to get insurance because they think it’s going to be cheaper, or because they have some other reason, and it’s actually working.”
The president said the ACA has worked well for people with preexisting conditions, such as the elderly.
The uninsured rate in 2016 was 9.5%, but it dropped to 4.7% in 2019.
In 2019, the uninsured rose to 18.2%, the lowest rate in five decades.