Barack Obama has made a rare foray back into politics, starring in a video to promote enrollment in the insurance markets he helped create.
The former President tweeted out the video to his 95m followers on 1 November – the first day of Obamacare enrollment for 2018. The video urged viewers to “get covered for 2018,” by purchasing a plan on Healthcare.gov.
“Spread the word to make sure everybody knows that it’s time to get covered on Healthcare.gov,” Mr Obama said in the video. “Because this country works best when we look out for one another.”
Mr Obama’s signature legislation – formally known as the Affordable Care Act – expanded Medicaid eligibility and provided subsidies for many people looking to buy insurance.
The current President, however, has worked to undermine the Obamacare markets. Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that Obamacare is “in a death spiral,” and that the insurance markets created by the Affordable Care Act are collapsing. The White House recently slashed the Obamacare advertising budget by 90 per cent.
Congressional Republicans have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act outright – though their numerous attempts to do so have failed. According to most estimates, the GOP plans would have increased the number of uninsured Americans by millions, while threatening popular protections for women and people with pre-existing conditions.
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer charge you more just for being a woman, or having a preexisting condition,” Mr Obama said in his video. “And that’s a good thing.”
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Despite Mr Trump’s claims, the Obamacare market has yet to collapse. Average premiums will be higher in 2018 than 2017, but will also be offset by higher government subsidies. The average subsidy will increase by 73 per cent, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. According to Mr Obama’s video, eight in 10 Americans will be able to find a plan for less than $75 per month in 2018.
Mr Obama is not alone in his efforts to get the word out about enrollment. A group of his former administration officials have launched Get America Covered – a campaign encouraging people to enroll by the 15 December deadline. The group tweeted out Mr Obama’s video on Wednesday.
Other, local groups are also mobilising to encourage people to enroll.
“So many people think that [Obamacare] has been repealed,” Brian Burton, the state director for Navigators for a Healthy Louisiana, told Politico. “And we’re just having to explain to them that it’s not.”
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