© 2021 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Halfway Through Open Enrollment, Fewer In The Carolinas Have Bought Health Insurance Plans

franchiseopportunitiesphotos / Flickr

Fewer people are buying health plans on the federal exchange than last year.

Even though these numbers represent sign ups halfway through open enrollment period, some of the changes to the Affordable Care Act are likely playing a role.   

Americans will no longer have to pay a fine for not buying health insurance.

This and other changes the Trump administration has made the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are likely playing a role in decreased enrollment.

So far this year, 1.9 million Americans have chosen plans on the Healthcare.gov. That’s about 11 percent lower year over year for the first 17 days of open enrollment.

Despite reductions in premiums for many customers in the Charlotte metro area, fewer people are still signing up in the Carolinas. So far this year, 114,114 people chose insurance plans in North Carolina - about 25,000 less than this time last year.

In South Carolina, 49,810 people have picked health insurance plans this year, down from the 54,506 that chose by this time last year.

But it’s hard to make an apples to apples comparison to 2017.

The federal government reports these numbers weekly. Regardless of when open enrollment starts, the government starts its week on Sunday. This year, open enrollment started on Thursday, which means each report captures one less day of enrollment than it did last year when enrollment started on Wednesday.

It’s still unclear if signups will reach the 11.8 million total seen last year, partially because consumers have other options, including short-term plans that now last a full year. But while premiums may be cheaper, they aren't subject to the same coverage requirements, so consumers could be surprised with high bills for uncovered care.

In this sixth year of open enrollment, the federal government has also cut back on its outreach funding.

People have till December 15 to sign up for coverage for 2019.