The headline in the Kansas City Star reads, “Obamacare enrollment down about twice as much in Kansas and Missouri as nationwide.” As one might expect, this decline is presented as a negative, but there is no reason it should be.
According to the Star’s health reporter, Andy Marso, enrollment in Obamacare was down 10 percent this year both in Kansas and Missouri, more than twice the national average. Marso follows these stats with his thesis, namely the concern of advocates “that more people may be risking going without coverage.”
What the advocates do not know, however, is why people are choosing not to enroll in Obamacare. Katrina McGivern, who leads the league in length of title, to wit, “policy and public affairs director for the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved,” raises the possibility that an Obamacare decline is a good thing. Says McGivern, “Hopefully there were more people insured through their employer or they went about getting insurance other ways.”
Given that Kansas and Missouri have well-below-average unemployment rates–Missouri is 12th lowest nationally, Kansas 15th–more people have likely found jobs with insurance coverage. Nationally, the unemployment rate is half of what it was in 2013 when Obamacare was rolled out. One should hope that the rate of people seeking subsidies would drop and that it would drop even more in states with low unemployment rates.
One other cause Marso cites for the possible drop is the elimination of the tax penalty for not having insurance. Another is the cut in the federal budget for “advertising open enrollment and for navigators to help people select a plan and see if they qualify for subsidies.” The former gesture Marso attributes to “Republicans” and the latter to “Trump.” This is his way of that both are somehow bad for America.
They are not.