With California being the last state to report its Obamacare enrollment figure for 2018, the final tally for the nationwide effort came in at 11.7 million sign-ups.


The HealthCare.gov site after end of enrollment.

California was among the last of the 11 states and District of Columbia to close their enrollment on Jan. 31. Earlier, with its exchanges closed on Dec. 15, 2017, Health.Care.gov reported 8.8 million enrollees, just 400,000 short of the previous year’s total whose open enrollment period didn’t close until Jan. 31.

Peak enrollment in Affordable Care Act (ACA) policies came in 2016, with 12.7 million nationwide customers. Enrollment has declined in the two years following that achievement and was down to 12.2 million in 2017. This year’s total was 11,760,533, according to ACAsignups.net.

In 2019, the ACA’s individual mandate loses its teeth, as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of December eliminated any penalty for not having health insurance starting Jan. 1. That could further reduce enrollment, as the young and healthy might opt out entirely or opt for “skinnier,” non-ACA plans with reduced benefits.

Overall, enrollment fell 2.3 percent for 2018. With reduced promotions and a shortened open enrollment period — and with somewhat open disdain for the ACA by most in the Trump administration and by many Republicans in Congress — an even greater shrinkage might have been expected.

Some 16 states showed increases in policyholders. Of those states, according to an analysis by the Associated Press, 10 were carried by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and 6 by Donald Trump. Overall, the 39 states that used the federal website saw their enrollment slip by about 5 percent.