Approximately 9.2 million people signed up for 2017 coverage through Healthcare.gov, a decrease from 9.6 million enrollments in 2016, the Trump administration announced Friday afternoon.
The health care marketplace had especially lackluster performance in its last two weeks, from January 15 to 31, when about 376,620 people enrolled in coverage. Nearly double that number — 789,708 people — signed up in the same time period last year.
These new numbers will no doubt fuel the already fierce political battle over whether the health law’s programs are working. Obamacare supporters will likely argue that the White House’s decision to pull back on promoting enrollment is responsible for the declined sign-ups. Politico published data last week showing that ad spending for Healthcare.gov fell from $1 million per day to $250,000 under the new administration.
Republicans will likely seize on the numbers to argue that the Affordable Care Act marketplaces are collapsing, as fewer people decide to enroll in benefits.
It’s worth noting that there are state-run marketplaces that did not see a decline in enrollment this year. Washington state, for example, manages its own marketplace and reported a 13 percent increase in sign-ups this year. New York state saw 22 percent more people sign up. Both of these states do not use Healthcare.gov, but rather run their own websites and are responsible for their own outreach and advertising.