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Despite Trump's attacks, Obamacare sign-ups for 2018 hold steady

Noam N. Levey, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in Health & Fitness

WASHINGTON -- Almost 12 million Americans signed up for 2018 health coverage through marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, according to a new tally that indicates nationwide enrollment remained virtually unchanged from last year despite President Donald Trump's persistent attacks on the 2010 health law.

The new enrollment numbers -- which include totals from California and other states that operate their own marketplaces, as well as states that rely on the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace -- offer the most detailed picture to date of the insurance markets.

And they suggest surprising strength in many markets across the country, with consumers steadily signing up for health plans even as Trump and his Republican congressional allies derided the markets as crumbling and unaffordable.

"This shows that consumers really want and need coverage," said Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, which compiled the nationwide enrollment tally.

"These are stable markets and a stable program," she said.

Florida, which uses HealthCare.gov, and California continue to lead all states with 1.7 million and 1.5 million enrollees, respectively.

 

The annual enrollment tally remains a relatively crude metric that doesn't account for what kind of consumers are signing up for coverage. And the totals don't include Americans who are buying health plans on their own rather than through the official marketplaces created by the health care law.

But total sign-ups have become an important barometer of the law, often called Obamacare.

And the numbers have been closely watched every year as politicians have debated whether to roll back the law.

In 2018, most of the 39 states that rely on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to operate their markets saw small decreases compared to 2017, the data show.

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