WASHINGTON — Consumers will have more health insurance choices next year under the Obama-era health care law and premiums will dip slightly for many customers, the Trump administration announced Tuesday.

Nebraska is among six states that will see premiums decline by 10% or more.

But that may be short-lived.

The administration is simultaneously asking a federal appeals court in New Orleans to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional, an overhang of uncertainty that looms over the program.

For now, the Department of Health and Human Services is touting a second consecutive year of positive-sounding numbers. An additional 20 insurers will participate for 2020, expanding consumer choice in many states, officials said. Nearly 70% of customers will have three or more insurers from which to pick a plan.

About 10 million people are covered through the health law’s insurance markets, which offer taxpayer-subsidized private plans for people who aren’t covered on the job.

Former President Barack Obama’s namesake law will be 10 years old in 2020.

Premiums for a hypothetical 27-year-old choosing a standard plan will decline 4% on average next year in states served by the federal HealthCare.gov website, the Trump administration said. About a dozen states run their own sign-up websites, but most rely on HealthCare.gov.

A low-cost midrange plan for that hypothetical 27-year-old will charge monthly premiums of $374 next year, officials said. The law’s income-based subsidies can drop that to around $50.

However, people who don’t qualify for income-based assistance must pay full price, and that’s before any deductibles and copays. Unsubsidized customers may just decide to go uninsured, particularly if they’re healthy.

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A previous Republican Congress repealed a nudge to get more people signed up — unpopular fines for those who don’t get covered.

Three states — Indiana, Louisiana and New Jersey — will see premiums increase 10% or more.

President Donald Trump’s administration, even as it pursues his goal of doing away with Obamacare in the courts, is trying to take credit for the program’s current stability.

Independent experts

credit the Trump administration for working with a dozen states to approve waivers that can bring down premiums by setting up a backstop system for paying bills from the costliest patients.

However, they say the original design of the law’s subsidies is probably the major stabilizing force. People eligible for financial assistance are insulated from price spikes because they pay only a fixed percentage of their income for premiums.

Experts say another stabilizing force is that insurers that have stuck with the program have learned over time how to operate profitably.

Sign-up season starts Nov. 1 in most states and runs through Dec. 15. States that run their own open enrollment may have different dates.

Coverage starts Jan. 1.

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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