The Trump administration’s management of Obamacare is causing higher premiums and lower enrollment in the individual market, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office finds.
The nonpartisan office estimates that average premiums in the health law marketplaces will be 15 percent higher next year “largely because of short-term market uncertainty — in particular, insurers’ uncertainty about whether federal funding for certain subsidies that are currently available will continue to be provided.”
The CBO also estimates that there will be less competition in the marketplaces next year, which it also attributes to the uncertain federal environment surrounding the health law’s future.
The subsidies the CBO refers to are the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which cover copays and deductibles for low-income health care enrollees. The Trump administration has not said whether it will continue to pay these subsidies next year, causing many insurance plans to raise their premiums to prevent any possible shortfall in revenue.
The CBO does expect that enrollment will grow slightly next year, from 10 million this year to 11 million in 2018. It projects, however, that the growth will be “limited” by those higher premium increases, which will likely drive away some consumers who cannot afford the more expensive premiums.
The CBO also points to “announced reductions in federal advertising, outreach, and other enrollment efforts” as additional factors that will make Obamacare sign-ups smaller next year than they otherwise would have been.
President Trump has often described the Affordable Care Act as “imploding on its own.” The CBO report suggests this isn’t the case at all; rather, the Trump administration is making specific policy decisions that are leading to an individual market that will be less functional, with fewer people signed up and higher premiums for those who do enroll.