The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced shortly before the end of the year that 8,743,642 signed up for health plans starting in 2018 through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace during the recent open enrollment period. This includes 389,081 individuals in Pennsylvania. This is 36,978 fewer individuals than last year, which is an 8.7 percent drop in enrollment.
This is a substantial accomplishment. Funding for in-person assistance in Pennsylvania was cut 35 percent earlier in the year, and the Trump administration announced it would spend 90 percent less on advertisement. Despite this challenge, more than 1 in 4 individuals signing up for plans were new enrollees. This speaks to the strong demand for high quality health plans.
This year, unique market conditions created new advantages for some consumers. In all but five counties (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia), the lowest cost unsubsidized gold plan was cheaper than the lowest cost unsubsidized silver plan. In more than 30 counties, a bronze plan cost nothing after a subsidy for a 40-year-old making $25,000 per year. Consumers had more options that would fit into their budget and cheaper options that covered more benefits.
While premiums rose this year, the average tax credit offered to people to cut the price of their insurance rose in 2018 to $555, up 45 percent from this year’s average credit of $382. Eight in ten enrollees in Pennsylvania are expected to have received financial assistance. A more detailed report from CMS should be available in March.
Beyond the enrollment in individual market health insurance plans, enrollment in Pennsylvania’s expanded Medicaid program remains steady at 715,823. This means that over 1.1 million Pennsylvanians have coverage due to the Affordable Care Act.
The team here at the Pennsylvania Health Access Network worked tirelessly to ensure people were connected to coverage. Here’s a brief recap comparing our results during this open enrollment period to last year’s open enrollment period. We were able to increase our enrollments by 50% in half the time (see image below for more details). Hats off to all navigators who worked hard to make sure everyone has the coverage they need!