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Obamacare enrollment down in Lansing

Local enrollment in Obamacare appears to be running well behind last year.

“Last year, in the period I probably enrolled about 50, so far I’ve only got one,” said Denise Paquette, the outreach and engagement director at the Allen Neighborhood Center, 1611 E. Kalamazoo St. “People need to realize the deadline is Dec.15 and they have to move quickly.” She added she has had about a dozen queries.

“The thing I am worried about is people hearing all the rhetoric going on around Affordable Care Act and it’s bothering them to sign up because they are not sure what’s happening,” Paquette said.

The Allen Neighborhood Center and other community centers as well as the Ingham County Health Department began offering enrollment Nov. 1 for 2018.

Federal funding for advertising the enrollment period was slashed from $100 million last year to $10 million this year.

“We promoted it on our social media,” Paquette said. “We also do a weekly e-bulletin that goes to about 2,600 subscribers where we had a little information blurb in there for last five weeks,” said Paquette. “We are doing what we can to advertise it.”

Premiums have gone up, but Packett said so have subsidies. “For folks who are qualified for the subsidy, they are still able to afford it without a lot of pain.”

Linda Vail, the Ingham County health officer, has been working on assisting Lansing residents to sign up for ACA since the first open marketplace year in 2010. She said that the political landscape is possibly slowing down enrollment, but it’s still “too early to count” enrollment ends Dec. 15.

Vail said the Trump administration’s decision to stop ACA cost-sharing subsidies does not “impact people at this point” since the insurance companies are already contracted for the next benefit year, which means they have to provide discounts regardless.

“President Trump is saying he’s not giving the paybacks to the insurance company for the lower cost they have to offer,” Vail said. “The paybacks are no longer going to the insurance companies. But the subsidies are still going to the individuals.”

Low registration in Ingham County may be an anomaly. By Nov 11, nearly 1.5 million people had selected ACA plans by signing up at HealthCare.gov, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a rise of 47 percent over last year.

To find out where to enroll, check the HealthCare.gov via Zip Code search. Or call (800) 318-2596.


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