Affordable Care Act Thrives in California
Reports of the demise of the Affordable Care Act have been greatly exaggerated. Despite the concerted efforts of the current administration to undermine it, defame it, defund it, and sow confusion and doubt about it in the minds of the public, the ACA is thriving today, continuing to provide affordable health coverage and pre-existing condition protection to citizens who would otherwise not qualify or not be able to pay for insurance.
The news is even better for citizens of California and other states who manage their own exchanges separately from the nationwide federal exchange. As the open enrollment period for 2019 coverage commences, here is a look at three signs that demonstrate how the ACA and Covered California continue to survive and thrive.
Insurance Company Presence on the Exchanges Is Expanding
Despite some politicians' claims that health insurance companies are bailing on the exchanges due to financial issues, the facts show that the exact opposite is true. Even in the face of the individual mandate repeal, 23 new insurance plans will be offered on the exchanges in 2019. More insurance companies are joining the exchanges as well, bringing the percentage of counties with only one insurer down to 39 percent nationwide, a significant drop from 56 percent.
Covered California Enrollment Is Increasing
Nationwide, last year's enrollment numbers dropped off by 3 percent, an impressively small figure in light of the administration's efforts to intimidate people from signing up for coverage through the exchanges. Furthermore, in California and other states that manage their own exchanges, enrollment numbers are actually on the rise. In March 2018, Covered California saw a growth of enrollment of 3.7 percent. In fact, enrollment in Covered California has seen an increase almost every year since 2014. The exception is 2017, which saw a negligible decrease of only 1,260 enrollees, perhaps as a reflection of uncertainty about the long-term prospects of the program in the wake of the 2016 election. However, enrollment during the 2017-2018 enrollment period came roaring back; as of March 2018, 1,437,410 people were enrolled with Covered California, an all-time high.
Costs Are Decreasing
Part of the purpose of the ACA is to control the growth rate of health care costs, and the evidence suggests that it is succeeding. Health care costs have moderated in the eight years since passage of the ACA, and compared to the George W. Bush administration, health care costs have grown considerably less during the same amount of time.
Furthermore, after a one-time spike in 2017, premiums are now down for 2019. Average premiums decreased 1.5 percent for the benchmark silver plan, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and some states are seeing even greater declines. Those who receive employer-sponsored insurance are seeing an average premium increase of 3 percent for individuals and 5 percent for families, while those who are subsidized through the ACA are seeing a premium increase of only 2 percent; good news for self-employed individuals who do not receive group benefits.
Despite all the good news about the Affordable Care Act, getting the insurance you need can still be confusing. Fortunately, Sackett & Associates Insurance Services is here to guide you through the process. For more information about enrolling in Covered California, contact us at 707-823-3689. Like us on Facebook, find us on LinkedIn, and subscribe to our blog for more insurance-related content.