Tribune Washington Bureau
Posted with permission from Tribune Content Agency

WASHINGTON — Sign-ups for health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act continued to surge this month amid anxiety about the future of the law under President-elect Donald Trump, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The flood of people signing up since enrollment began Nov. 1 surpassed 1 million on Saturday, outpacing enrollment from last year, new data show.

The signups, which accelerated after last week's election, highlight anew the high stakes in the coming battle over repealing Obamacare, which Trump and his congressional allies have pledged to do early next year.

More than 300,000 people selected plans Nov. 9-11, the health agency reported. That post-election period also coincided with stepped-up outreach efforts.

"The American people are demonstrating how much they continue to want and need the coverage the marketplace offers," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement Wednesday.

There were 53,000 more sign-ups during the first 12 days of open enrollment this year than last, according to the health agency.

The outpouring over the first two weeks of the enrollment period comes amid rising uncertainty about the fate of the insurance system set up by the 2010 health law.

The system, which relies on insurance marketplaces and expanded access to Medicaid, has recorded historic gains over the last three years, as some 20 million previously uninsured Americans have gained health insurance since 2013.

In the same period, the nation's uninsured rate dropped to the lowest level ever recorded.

Trump and congressional Republicans have said they will replace the system in a way that ensures people don't lose coverage. But the GOP has not advanced any alternatives that would protect the millions of people who now depend on the law.

Many of these Americans have low incomes and rely on Medicaid, which has been expanded in 31 states through the health law.

But about 11 million get commercial health plans through HealthCare.gov and similar state-based insurance marketplaces that were created through the law.

And more than 80 percent of these consumers receive government subsidies to offset the cost of their premiums.

The current enrollment period, the fourth through the health law, runs through January for 2017 coverage.