Nearly 300K register for Obamacare in Michigan

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

The number of Michigan residents who signed up in the Obamacare health program nearly equaled that of a year ago, despite an open enrollment period that was shortened by half, according to partial enrollment figures released by the federal government.

Michigan had 298,989 residents select plans on the website, totaling 93 percent of the 321,451 who enrolled last year, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Turnout at the website used by 39 states to manage health care enrollment was strong across the country. Nationally, at least 8.8 million selected plans, which amounted to 96 percent of the 9.2 million who enrolled for Obamacare in 2016.

Open enrollment is still going on in parts of seven states that were affected by this year’s hurricanes. The numbers released Thursday also don’t include people who signed up in the last few hours before open enrollment ended at 3 a.m. ET on Dec. 16, or those waiting for call-backs because they couldn’t complete their applications.

The strong demand for Obamacare was hailed as a victory by consumer advocates who have said the Trump administration shortened the open enrollment period in an effort to destabilize the insurance market that is a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Trump also terminated tax credits for health insurers, slashed the advertising budget and reduced funding for navigators that help people enroll.

The sweeping Republican tax overhaul Trump signed into law Friday eliminates the ACA mandate that most individuals must be insured or pay a fine, a move expected to result in millions of Americans dropping their health coverage.

“It’s incredible how many people signed up for coverage this year with record-setting demand for affordable health coverage,” Lori Lodes, founder of the enrollment assistance nonprofit Get America Covered, said in a press release Friday.

“Enrollment defied expectations and the Trump Administration’s efforts to derail it. The demand for coverage speaks volumes––proving, yet again, the staying power of the marketplaces and that people want and need the health and financial security that comes with health coverage.”