Obama tweets about Obamacare plans for $10 or less ahead of deadline

Sign ups for 2020 Obamacare coverage slide slightly
Healthcare.gov

It’s that time of year again!

Former President Barack Obama released his now-annual video to spur people to sign up for Obamacare before the Dec. 15 deadline.

This year’s theme is the former president’s holiday shopping list of gifts for $10 or less which, he says, includes health care coverage.

Obama called attention to the fact that two-thirds of those with coverage on federal exchange, Healthcare.gov, can find 2020 plans with monthly premiums of $10 or less thanks to premium subsidies, according to federal data.

“I thought it was about time I share my holiday gift list — a few practical items, all $10 or less. The best one? Health care for you or somebody you care about,” Obama said in a tweet, which featured the video.

Obama also touts the benefits of the Affordable Care Act — which President Donald Trump is continuing to undermine — such as protections for those with pre-existing conditions and free preventative care.

Signups could use a boost this year. Nearly 2.9 million people have selected plans through Nov. 30, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That’s down 7% on an average daily basis from last year’s open enrollment period.

Those actively renewing has dropped, but current enrollees will be automatically signed up for 2020 plans just after open enrollment ends.

One somewhat bright spot: The number of new people selecting plans has fallen less than in previous years. It’s down only 2% so far from a year ago.

One reason why Obama has gotten involved in pushing people to sign up ahead of the enrollment deadline is because the Trump administration cut the Obamacare advertising budget by 90%, starting in 2017. Advocates say this has greatly hurt enrollment.

While the landmark health reform law has proved resilient, signups slid to 11.4 million in 2019, down from a high of 12.7 million in 2016.

While most people with coverage have re-enrolled over the years, fewer new consumers have signed up. Also, those who don’t receive premium subsidies are leaving the individual market, particularly after insurers hiked rates several years in a row.

For 2020, the average premium for the benchmark plan will drop 4% — the second year in a row of lower rates — while 20 more insurers are offering policies, bringing the total to 175.

Open enrollment runs through Dec. 15 in the 38 states using the federal exchange. Some states that run their own marketplaces have later enrollment deadlines.