Exchange signups hit post-election peak amid uncertainty of ACA’s future

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Americans are continuing to sign up for policies under the Health Insurance Marketplace amid post-election uncertainty regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Interest has been strong as more than 100,000 people accessed the exchanges in search of health insurance coverage the day after Donald Trump was elected as the country’s 45th president. The spike marked the most dramatic push since open enrollment began on Nov. 1.

President-elect Trump had pledged during his campaign that he would repeal and replace the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare, but several statements made this past week signal that he might be back stepping from a complete repeal. On Sunday, Trump told 60 Minutes host Lesley Stahl that he would keep the parts of the law that maintain coverage for people with preexisting conditions and cover young adults living with their parents.

On Monday, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, held a briefing on the Health Insurance Marketplace in Washington, D.C. She commented that 20 million more Americans have health insurance coverage today thanks to the ACA, and the nation’s uninsured rate is the lowest in history.

“The American people do not want to go back — they want Republicans and Democrats to come together to make the law better,” Burwell said during the White House briefing. “And in the meantime, we’re going to keep helping Americans access the coverage they want and need.”

Burwell said the ACA “is now woven into the fabric of our nation” and a strong open enrollment for 2017 will make that more true.

In South Dakota, people are able to choose between two providers offering plans through the exchanges – Avera Health Plans and Sanford Health Plan. Some 26,000 South Dakotans selected a marketplace plan during the 2016 open enrollment, and that number is expected to grow in 2017.