Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, remains the nation’s only available support for working people unable to afford health insurance.

This reality is demonstrated again by a report from the Trump administration on the status of the Affordable Care Act and the plans available under it.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an additional 20 insurers will offer Obamacare plans in 2020, expanding consumer choice in many states. Nearly 70% of customers will have three or more insurers from which to pick a plan.

More than 10 million people are covered through the health law’s insurance markets. Most of them are subsidized by the taxpayer, at a cost in 2018 of $6,300 per year per subsidized plan.

In states served by the federal HealthCare.gov website, premiums for a hypothetical 27-year-old choosing a standard plan will drop 4% on average in 2020. A midrange plan for that hypothetical 27-year-old would cost $374 per month next year, officials said. After taxpayer subsidies, that cost would drop to about $50.

People who earn too much to qualify for the subsidized coverage must pay the full price, including deductibles and copays, so many continue to go without health insurance.

When enacted under President Barack Obama in 2010, the law imposed a tax on citizens who did not have health care coverage as an incentive to get it. The GOP-controlled Congress in 2017 abolished the tax, causing enrollment in Obamacare to recede.

Enrollment has been slowly eroding since, from 12.2 million in 2017 to 11.4 million this year.

The Affordable Care Act has programmatic flaws but is better than no insurance, which is what most of the roughly 11 million covered people would have without it.

The ACA should remain in place until something better can take its place, and that includes giving adequate notice to the public about the sign-up dates, which this year began Nov. 1 and will end Dec. 15.

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