Obamacare signups rose for Wichita Falls insurance agent, dipped slightly overall in Texas

A Wichita Falls insurance agent saw a healthy rise in Obamacare enrollment for 2019 in spite of a judge ruling the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional and a law dumping the tax penalty for not having health insurance..

But figures from the federal government show signups through, the federal marketplace for ACA plans, dipped slightly during open enrollment.

We enrolled a record number of people despite what you hear out there that enrollment numbers were down nationwide
Kelly Fristoe of Financial Partners

Fristoe estimated his clients’ renewals and new signups at about 2,000 during the 45 days of open enrollment from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.

Last year, that figure came to about 1,500, he said.

He attributed the increase to an advertising and social media campaign targeting low-wage earners who qualify for ACA tax credits.

The gist of his campaign was all carrot and no stick: Even though no one will pay penalties for not having health insurance in 2019, wouldn'?phpt it be better to enroll in an ACA health care plan since it will cost you little to no money?

Many of his clients qualified for premiums of less than $50 monthly, Fristoe, a regional vice president for the National Association of Health Underwriters, said.

To qualify for ACA plans, a single person in Texas must earn a minimum yearly wage of about $12,500 - but no more than approximately $46,000, he said.

In spite of concerns, ACA enrollees don’t face changes in coverage of pre-existing conditions or the program’s discontinuation in 2019.

The only thing that we're going to have different, really, in 2019 is the fact that people are no longer going to be subject to paying a penalty if they don't have insurance
Kelly Fristoe of Financial Partners

Penalties on tax returns due in April 2019 are still possible for those who could afford health insurance but didn’t have it in 2018, according to

The penalty is 2.5 percent of yearly household income or $695 per adult – whichever sum is higher.

But a 2018 tax law championed by Republicans eliminated the tax penalty for 2019 – for which tax returns are due in April 2020.

Some experts feared jettisoning what’s sometimes called the “individual mandate” would cripple enrollment in ACA plans.

Instead, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services described enrollment as “steady” through the midnight Dec. 15 deadline.

In Texas, ACA enrollment dipped from approximately 1.13 million for 2018 plans to 1.09 million for 2019, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Health Foundation.

About 8.5 million had signed up for 2019 plans by Dec. 31, 2018, compared to approximately 8.8 million the same time in 2017, according to a Dec. 19 CMS media release.

“With the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, it’s possible that more Americans have employer based coverage, and don’t need exchange plans,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in the release.

The enrollment figures are preliminary. A surge in last-minute attempts to sign up and varying deadlines for states are expected to affect final numbers.