A sign at an Affordable Care Act outreach event in Los Angeles, California, September 28, 2013.
Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters

So far, ACA enrollment numbers are ‘a big surprise’

For American health care consumers, last week was the start of the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period, which was notable in part because of the Trump-era changes. The White House hasn’t made much of an effort to hide the fact that the Trump administration hopes to sabotage the health care system, and to that end, officials have taken unmistakable steps to discourage participation.

As the Washington Post noted, those efforts don’t appear to be working.

In the first few days of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, the numbers of participants has surged compared with the past, according to federal officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the administration has yet to release official numbers.

More than 200,000 Americans chose a plan on Nov. 1, the day open enrollment began, according to one administration official. That’s more than double the number of consumers who signed up on the first day of enrollment last year. More than 1 million people visited HeathCare.gov, the official federal website, the official said, which amounts to roughly a 33 percent increase in traffic compared with 2016.

Note, this only offers a piece of a larger image, since roughly a quarter of the states have their own exchange marketplaces that operate independently from HeathCare.gov, and we don’t yet have a sense of how their first week of enrollments went.

But the evidence that is available at the national level looks like great news for the health care system – even if it’s bad news for Donald Trump’s political agenda. The president seemed to personally take it upon himself to depress enrollment totals – it’s difficult to count just how many times Trump declared the ACA “dead” – and it appears he can’t even do that properly.

The Post’s article quoted one state official who said this year’s numbers may even set a record, and it’s “a big surprise.”

The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer questioned whether Trump accidentally created a “Streisand Effect,” in which efforts to divert attention away from a story had the opposite and unintended effect. In other words, it’s possible that Trump put so much effort into condemning “Obamacare,” that it led to greater public awareness and ultimately gave the start of the open-enrollment period a boost.

It’s as good an explanation as any.

Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump, Health Care and Obamacare

So far, ACA enrollment numbers are 'a big surprise'