THURSDAY, Dec. 20, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Despite numerous difficulties, early figures show that sign-ups for health coverage next year under the Affordable Care Act are higher than expected.
As of last Saturday's deadline for open enrollment, 8.5 million people in 39 states had enrolled. Another dozen states, including California and New York, still have to provide their numbers, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Associated Press reported. That initial tally is about 4 percent lower than the previous sign-up, but a much larger decline had been predicted. Nearly 11.8 million people nationwide signed up last year, and it is possible that number could be reached again this year after all numbers are collected.
One note of concern is that the number of new customers this year was down by 15 percent compared with last year. While premiums have stabilized and consumers have more choices under the Affordable Care Act, premiums for comprehensive coverage remain too high for many people who do not quality for financial assistance, the AP reported. Other challenges facing the program include repealing of the requirement for Americans to have health insurance, reduced advertising, and competition from lower-cost insurance that provides less coverage. Last Friday, a federal judge in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Opponents plan to appeal the decision. The new sign-up numbers suggest that even with such struggles, there is still strong support for the health care law.
"Despite everything that has been thrown at this market, politically, with premium increases and also regulation changes, there is still a core group of Americans who want this insurance and buy this insurance every year," Chris Sloan, of the consulting firm Avalere Health, told the AP. "They are a hardy group of people."