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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Premiums are going down and competition is going up as we head into the next Affordable Care Act enrollment period.

The big picture: Those are both good signs. But those metrics are improving, in part, because they got so much worse over the past several years.

By the numbers: The average premium for a 27-year-old, for a middle-of-the-road plan, will be 4% lower in 2020 than it was this year, the Health and Human Services Department announced yesterday.

  • There will be 20 more insurers selling plans through HealthCare.gov, for a total of 175.

Yes, but: These lower premiums and increased competition will benefit people who get federal help paying their premiums, but unsubsidized consumers have fled the market and aren’t likely to come back.

  • The Trump administration has not tried to stop that exodus. Instead, it has opened up more access to inexpensive, often bare-bones options outside of the exchanges.
  • Insurers initially mispriced their plans, then settled into a more stable market, then freaked out in response to many of Trump’s actions, and are now settling back down again.

Our thought bubble: The Affordable Care Act is neither collapsing nor thriving. It is, like all of us, hangin’ in there.

Go deeper: The ACA is smaller, weaker and more liberal than Obama intended

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Higher education expands its climate push

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New or expanded climate initiatives are popping up at several universities, a sign of the topic's rising prominence and recognition of the threats and opportunities it creates.

Why it matters: Climate and clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities are nothing new, but it shows expanded an campus focus as the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and the world is nowhere near the steep emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to hold future warming in check.

Ina Fried, author of Login
29 mins ago - Economy & Business

The pandemic isn't slowing tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thursday's deluge of Big Tech earnings reports showed one thing pretty clearly: COVID-19 may be bad in all sorts of ways, but it's not slowing down the largest tech companies. If anything, it's helping some companies, like Amazon and Apple.

Yes, but: With the pandemic once again worsening in the U.S. and Europe, it's not clear how long the tech industry's winning streak can last.

Texas early voting surpasses 2016's total turnout

Early voting in Austin earlier this month. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Texas' early and mail-in voting totals for the 2020 election have surpassed the state's total voter turnout in 2016, with 9,009,850 ballots already cast compared to 8,969,226 in the last presidential cycle.

Why it matters: The state's 38 Electoral College votes are in play — and could deliver a knockout blow for Joe Biden over President Trump — despite the fact that it hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976.

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