WV applications for ACA decline

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va.-(WTAP) Fewer West Virginians are signing up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

22,600 enrolled for coverage during the sign-up period that ended in mid-December. That's compared to just more than 34,000 who enrolled two years ago.

Several reasons are cited by West Virginia NaviCare, the organization that handles enrollment through the website HealthCare.gov.

The organization says those who are signing up increasingly are the people who need health care the most.

"They're concerned they may end up dying throughout the year," says Jeremy Smith, Outreach Coordinator. "So I think a lot of the people who signed up for the program are definitely the ones who need coverage, but, unfortunately, they're also the ones who use it a lot. That affects the prices down the road for the rest of the group."

Smith says one factor in the declining enrollment is the removal of the "individual mandate", the income tax penalty for failure to have health insurance, approved in 2017 as part of the congressional tax reform bill.

Another factor: increases in the prices and deductibles for health coverage under the ACA.