Fewer Iowans sign up for ACA as fate of law remains uncertain

Limited publicity, uncertainty hinders numbers

FILE PHOTO - The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as “Obamacare”, outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S. on October 4, 2013.  REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman/File Photo
FILE PHOTO - The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as “Obamacare”, outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S. on October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman/File Photo

The number of Iowans who signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace fell this year, according to federal figures.

The decline comes amid confusion about the future of the law — also known as Obamacare — and the transition to a new president who has vowed to repeal the law.

A total of 51,573 Iowans signed up for health insurance between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That’s down from 55,089 last year.

The decline matches the drop nationwide from 9.6 million to 9.2 million. Those figures don’t include the states that run their own online marketplaces.

Before they left office, Obama administration officials had said that enrollment was running slightly ahead of last year’s pace.

However, the Trump administration limited publicity in the closing days of the enrollment period — a time when interest typically is high and when the Obama administration aggressively had courted business.

About 376,000 signed up nationwide in the last two weeks of January this year, compared with 686,000 in just the last week of 2016’s enrollment period.

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Still, the decline also comes as people were facing premium increases and more limited choices. Nationwide, average premiums in the ACA exchange had jumped 25 percent.

In addition, there is uncertainty as congressional Republicans move toward repealing the law or replacing parts of it.

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