A steady effort by the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to undermine the Affordable Care Act is having a profoundly disturbing effect:

Enrollments are down 23 percent in Illinois, and most people don’t realize the deadline for signing up this year is just weeks away.

That early deadline — Dec. 15 — is itself a result of Republican efforts to kill the ACA, also known as Obamacare. The Trump administration this year shortened the sign-up period from three months to just 45 days.

Heed this warning if you are among the tens of thousands of people who are uninsured or buy your own insurance who might want to sign up for the ACA for 2019. Don’t be left out in the cold just because the federal government has shrunk the enrollment period and slashed by 90 percent the amount of money being spent to get the word out that it’s sign-up time.

EDITORIAL

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll published Wednesday, only a quarter of Americans know this year’s open enrollment deadline is Dec. 15. In Illinois, sign-ups are down from about 95,000 at this time last year, to about 73,000 this year.

That’s bad news not just for the people who will find themselves without insurance in 2019, but also for the chronically ill, the disabled, the elderly and others who stand to see their premiums go up because there are fewer people in the insurance pool. Costs also will go up for taxpayers because the Cook County Health and Hospital Systems provides half of the care for people in the county who don’t have insurance.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues in its effort to kill Obamacare. On Thursday, it was reported that the administration wants to allow states to give people permission to use federal insurance subsidies to buy health insurance outside the ACA marketplaces. That would allow the subsidies to go to substandard insurance policies that healthier people might buy, driving up costs for people, such as those with preexisting conditions, who need better insurance benefits.

Enrollment numbers also may be down because Congress last year eliminated the individual mandate, which requires people to have health insurance or pay a fine. The Congressional Budget Office estimated at that time that eliminating the mandate would lead to 4 million fewer people signing up for ACA insurance for the coming year.

In the Nov. 6 elections, many congressional candidates who campaigned in support of the Affordable Care Act triumphed at the polls, which means congressional efforts to repeal the law soon will end for at least two years.

If you need ACA insurance, you have less than three weeks to sign up. Go to GetCovered.Illinois.gov.

Contractor Mike Hewitt works on a project at a home in Austin, Texas, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. Hewitt, a self-employed home remodeling contractor covered by Obamacare who is planning to renew, fell off a roof a few years ago and he says he was lucky that he was covered by the ACA because it allowed him to get treatment for a shattered heel and torn arm muscles. Sign-up season for the Affordable Care Act’s subsidized health insurance starts Thursday, and for a change the outlook for the program is stable. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) ORG XMIT: WX105

Contractor Mike Hewitt works on a project at a home in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. Hewitt — a self-employed home remodeling contractor covered by Obamacare who is planning to renew — fell off a roof a few years ago and says he was lucky that he was covered by the ACA because it allowed him to get treatment for a shattered heel and torn arm muscles. | AP Photo/Eric Gay

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