New Enrollment in Covered California Drops 3 Percent

The number of Californians newly signed up for health insurance through Covered California, the state’s insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act, dropped 3 percent compared with last year, according to enrollment figures released by Covered California on Monday.

About 412,000 people signed up for health plans through the exchange during the open enrollment period for 2017, compared with 425,000 who signed up during open enrollment last year.

The falloff comes amid a national decline in enrollment in health plans through, the federal insurance marketplace used in several dozen states but not California, which fell for the first time, according to figures released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Friday. The number of people signed up for plans fell by 500,000, or about 5 percent, to 9.2 million people.

The drop coincides with continued promises by President Trump and Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Republicans in recent days have softened their rhetoric on replacement legislation, and some are now referring to the efforts as a “repair” plan. In an interview on Fox News that aired Sunday, Trump said it may take until 2018 to come out with replacement legislation.

In California, open enrollment was originally to end Jan. 31, but the deadline was extended four days.

State officials said the volume of signups met their projections of 400,000 new enrollees. About 1.5 million Californians now have health insurance through the exchange. Overall enrollment in Covered California was up from 1.3 million last year.

“When consumers know they have a pathway to get health care made affordable by tax credits, they sign up,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee in a statement.

Covered California, which began in October 2013, allows people to use federal subsidies to buy health plans from private insurers. About 90 percent of people who buy plans on the exchange do so with the help of the subsidies.

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