Obamacare Enrollment Program Signed Up a Fraction of Those Who Canceled Coverage in 2017

Program signed up 14,500, while 1.9 million dropped their coverage

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The Affordable Care Act Enrollment Assistance Program helped 14,500 individuals enroll in the Obamacare exchanges, which represented only 0.007 percent of the 1.9 million individuals who decided to drop their Obamacare plan in 2017.

The Obama administration established the Enrollment Assistance Program, which created storefronts and hired workers to help customers enroll in the Obamacare exchanges and obtain coverage. The government spent $22.4 million on the program and created contracts with two companies, Cognosante and CSRA, to implement their mission.

The Trump administration decided to stop the program this year by not renewing the contracts.

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The program was able to enroll 14,500 individuals in the Obamacare exchanges during the 2017 open enrollment period. This means the administration paid about $1,545 for each person the program helped sign up.

According to data released from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in June, a total of 12.2 million people had signed up for coverage in the open enrollment period, but only 10.3 million decided to keep their coverage by paying the first month's premium.

This means that 1.9 million individuals dropped their Obamacare plan and did not pay their first month's premium. Many of these individuals cited cost as the reason for canceling their coverage.

While some have criticized the Trump administration's decision to stop funding this program to promote Obamacare, the data show far more people decided to drop their plan than the program helped sign up.

Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute, says people are dropping coverage because of large premium increases, not a lack of advertising.

"The Enrollment Assistance Program was a monumental failure and a needless waste of taxpayer money," Pipes said. "The government spent over $22 million on just two contracts that yielded only 14,500 enrollments—far less than one percent of total sign-ups. That's $1,500 per enrollee."

"In the first half of this year, almost 2 million Americans dropped out of the exchange plans they selected last enrollment season," she said. "People are fleeing the exchanges not because of insufficient advertising or enrollment assistance, but because Obamacare's regulations have made premiums and deductibles unaffordable, making it difficult for many to use their coverage. No amount of outreach can make up for 30, 40, and even 50-percent-plus premium increases."

"President Trump was wise to scrap the program rather than continue to prop up Obamacare's failing exchanges," she said.