April 4 (UPI) — About 11.8 million Americans who signed up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act in 2018 saw an average 30 percent increase in premiums this year, while the government reduced its advertising costs by 90 percent, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report revealed.
The CMS said 8.7 million people signed up or automatically re-enrolled through the Healthcare.gov website, while 3 million signed up through state-based exchanges for 2018. Twenty-seven percent were new enrollees, while 47 percent actively chose to re-enroll in health coverage.
The agency’s report Tuesday said the average unsubsidized monthly premium for coverage in 2018 rose from $476 last year to $621 this year, an increase of 30 percent.
“Even with the success of this year’s open enrollment, the individual market continues to see premiums rise and choices diminish,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. “Average individual market premiums have more than doubled since 2013 compared to health plans on the dxchange in 2018, and half of U.S. counties have had only one issuer to choose from this year.”
Though costs rose for consumers, the federal government saw a reduction in marketing costs for the 2018 enrollment period by 90 percent. The government also shortened the enrollment period by about half, compared to previous years.
Some health experts warned last year that advertising cuts and the shortened enrollment period were aimed at depriving the ACA of gaining new customers necessary to expand the pool of buyers and continue the program. There were 12.2 million enrollees in 2017, compared to 11.8 million in 2018, a reduction of 3.3 percent.
The CMS said said it spent $10 million on marketing and research, about $1 per enrollee, compared to about $100 million, or $11 per person, in 2018.