ACA update: More insurers buy in, premiums expected to fall

October 24, 2019

CMS announces drop in cost for second cheapest plan and more payers getting involved

The outlook on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is looking up according to an October 22 news release from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

An additional 20 insurers are expected to participate in the Federal Health Insurance Exchange platform for the 2020 coverage year, the release said. In addition, costs for the silver plan for a 27-year-old are expected to drop 4 percent for the 2020 coverage year.

“Lower costs and more options for American patients are a key piece of President Trump’s healthcare vision: an affordable, patient-centric system that puts you in control, and treats you like a person, not a number,” says Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

The release paints the positive news as only a drop in the bucket when it comes to repairing the ACA, which has been decried by Republicans as “a disaster.”

President Donald J. Trump promised an uncountable number of times on the 2016 campaign trail and since that he and congressional Republicans would “repeal and replace” the ACA, which was signed into law in 2010.

Indeed, the release is replete with blame for what CMS calls a “broken” system, which the Trump administration and a Republican-held congress attempted to repeal in 2017 with limited success. The Trump administration has signed executive orders to eliminate tax penalties to neuter the individual mandate and taking efforts slash advertising, which critics say will make enrolling more difficult.

The administration is currently fighting a court battle in an effort to have a judge overturn the law as unconstitutional, though it remains to be seen what would take its place.

This announcement is just another salvo in the battle over American healthcare as Trump’s Democratic rivals roll out their own plans in advance of the 2020 election.

While the Democrats are pushing big ideas such as variations on Medicare for All, Trump has set his sights on incremental changes like:

  • Opening up cheaper coverage options including expanding short-term limited benefit plans

  • Allowing employers to fund individual market premiums through health reimbursement arrangements

“Under President Trump’s leadership, CMS has taken strong steps to deliver more choice and affordability to consumers in the individual market and I’m pleased to report we’re delivering strong results,” says CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

Open enrollment in the ACA runs from November 1 to December 15 with coverage taking effect January 1.