Suburban residents worry about health insurance as ACA enrollment ends

  • Kara Murphy, president of the DuPage Health Coalition, talks about the concerns patients have about the future of their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

      Kara Murphy, president of the DuPage Health Coalition, talks about the concerns patients have about the future of their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted2/1/2017 5:24 AM

While some suburban residents consider the Affordable Care Act's health insurance plans imperfect and expensive, they're also worried about not having them.

The Affordable Care Act's fourth open enrollment season closed at midnight Tuesday amid uncertainty over how much actions by the Trump administration to undercut the law might affect those who signed up for health insurance through its marketplaces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The question we get most often is, 'What's going to happen next?'" said Adam Forker, director of client access at the DuPage County Health Department. "There's a lot of uncertainty."

The 2017 open-enrollment period could be the last under the ACA. President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have said dismantling the 2010 law is a top priority.

Some enrollees have complained about costs, like a Des Plaines restaurant worker who said the only option available to her through the Affordable Care Act was a $540 per month BlueCross Blue Shield plan with a $7,100 deductible.

But many worry about the lack of GOP consensus about what will happen to the 10 million Americans with individual health plans through the federal exchange and similar state-run marketplaces.

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The new White House has not touched mainstays of the enrollment operation. The HealthCare.gov website for the federal insurance exchange on which 39 states rely continues to operate.

An executive order the president signed on his first night in office calls for agencies to reverse rules that place a financial burden on individuals, suggesting enforcement of the law's coverage mandate might be lifted. No ACA rules have been rewritten so far.

Last week, when the White House directed the Health and Human Services Department to stop all enrollment outreach activities, ACA proponents and insurers warned the action was likely to suppress sign-ups by the most desirable customers -- younger and healthier people who tend to act right before the deadline.

Stung by the outcry, the administration partly reversed course, reinstating Twitter notifications as well as emails and robocalls to potential ACA customers. It also permitted television, radio and digital ads that the Health and Human Services Department already had paid to air if the government could not get a refund.

As open enrollment ends, sign-ups were running slightly ahead of a year ago.

• Daily Herald wire services contributed to this report.

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