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With Obamacare ad dollars slashed, expect lower enrollment

Two people discuss health plans available from the Affordable Care Act with an agent. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Want to know what happens when you cut ad spending for Obamacare? Just ask Kentucky. When the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchanges first went online, Kentucky had a Democratic governor. But a year later, Kentucky elected a Republican governor, who quickly slashed the ad budget.

Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, studied how the drop in advertising affected the Kentucky exchange. There were “450,000 fewer page views per week on the website,” she said.

Enrollment on the Kentucky exchange fell from around 106,000 people in 2015 to about 81,000 this year. Franklin-Fowler said healthy people need a reminder to sign up for insurance.

“That is where advertising can be especially helpful in encouraging those people to go and get insurance,” she said.

The Trump administration is going to cut national advertising for Obamacare by 90 percent and cut the enrollment window down to just 45 days. And all of the talk of repealing Obamacare is causing confusion.

“Our polling showed that 59 percent of consumers either didn’t think the marketplace would exist next year or weren’t sure,” said Joshua Peck, co-founder of the nonprofit Get America Covered.

And if you don’t even think Obamacare will be around next year, you’re not going to enroll.

Open enrollment for 2018 health insurance plans runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.

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