It is becoming clear that there is a strategy to hamstring and hamper the ACA so there will be less public opposition to repeal because the law won’t be seen as delivering any benefits. But the hamstringing and hampering will not be great acts that immediately cripple the Exchanges but instead, small jabs and lances that bleed and break the sinews that hold the law together. The Day 1 executive order that sets the policy of the federal government to pass out hardship exemptions to the individual mandate as a matter of routine is part of this. And then the decision on Thursday to cancel paid for ads is another element of this strategy:
— Jennifer Haberkorn (@jenhab) January 26, 2017
Why does this matter? Right now enrollment is either at or slightly above projected pace. But the distribution of enrollment most likely skews slightly older compared to the initial and final 2016 risk pool. Young or healthy people are usually the last people to sign up for an insurance product as it gives the least value while sick or old people who know that they could get sick are more likely to sign up early.
— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) January 27, 2017
Deadlines spur action. Deadlines spur young enrollment.
Now cutting $5 million dollars worth of ads won’t death spiral the ACA. There are enough ads paid for by insurers and enrollment non-profits that are up that people are getting hit with the message. Last night at the gym, I saw three ads in under an hour. This morning, I heard two ads on the radio. The communication is getting out there.
But the volume and trust of that communication will be a little bit lower over the final weekend than it otherwise would have been. The enrollment will be a little bit less than it otherwise would have been. The risk pool will be slightly older than projected. That all means carriers will raise rates slightly more than they otherwise would have. It gives Republican opponents of the ACA two moments of good press releases — the first will be in early February when the total enrolled number is announced and it falls slightly short. The second will be over the summer as carriers are releasing their pricing with big, ugly numbers.