Initial Obamacare Numbers Show Enrollment Increase

The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services says more than 600,000 people signed up for health care during the first week of open enrollment.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press file

Despite efforts from the Trump administration to cut money, resources and time from the Affordable Care Act enrollment process, more people are signing up for Obamacare than at the same time in previous years.

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The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services says more than 600,000 people signed up for care during the first week of open enrollment.

For a look inside the enrollment bump and what message it could send to state lawmakers, host Denis O’Hayer spoke with Georgia Health News editor Andy Miller on”Morning Edition.”

On What The Enrollment Figures Mean

Anecdotally, there are organizations who sign up people in Georgia who’ve said enrollment has been pretty brisk over the first couple weeks. One thing it shows, I think, is a lot of these people — 75 percent of them — are re-enrolling, and many of those people probably are very motivated to keep their insurance. They may have health conditions, and they absolutely have to have coverage.

On How The Numbers Are Playing Out In Georgia

We don’t know the actual breakdown here in Georgia, but it’s like 20 to 25 percent of the people are newcomers to the exchange. That’s a little lower percentage than we’ve seen in previous years.

On Why There Are So Few Newcomers To Obamacare

There is a lot less marketing and advertising of the exchanges. The Trump administration has cut the budget on that by 90 percent. And we know that there is much less navigator funding. And so, we’re probably, at the end of this shorter enrollment period, going to see fewer sign-ups than we have in previous years.

On Whether The Enrollment Surge Sends A Message To State Lawmakers

These are Georgians out there who need insurance. That’s not a political issue, whether you stand on the left or the right. These are folks that need coverage. I think the Legislature and the political powers that be should be aware that these are people that need coverage, and if they’re uninsured, the rest of us are going to pay for their care when they go to the emergency room to get medical services.

On Whether Georgia Will Expand Medicaid

It may not happen under the Deal administration, but I think state leaders realize that we have problems in this state in terms of the high uninsured number, about hospitals in rural areas going out of business, the opioid crisis –people not getting treatment. We have real problems in this state in terms of health and health care. There are enough people; there is gathering momentum toward doing at least something to get insurance coverage for people.