Obamacare Enrollment Projection Reduced

CBO: Number of uninsured Americans expected to rise by 2 million

March 29, 2016

The projected number of Americans covered through Obamacare marketplaces has been reduced by one million Americans from previous estimates, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.

The office projected in January that 13 million people would be enrolled in health care policies through Obamacare marketplaces. However, the most recent report finds that 12 million people will be covered.

"About 13 million people selected plans through the marketplaces in 2016 by the close of the open-enrollment period; however CBO and [the Joint committee on Taxation] estimate that, in any given month, an average of about 12 million people will be covered by insurance purchased through the marketplaces," states the report.

The office also projects that from 2017 to 2026 the number of uninsured individuals is expected to rise from 26 million to 28 million.

More employers are expected to cease providing insurance for their employees as a result of the Affordable Care Act. While the office estimates that 155 million people will have coverage through their employer in 2016, that number is expected to decline to 152 million in 2019.

"Most of the projected reduction in employment-based coverage is attributable to the ACA," states the report. "[The Congressional Budget Office] and [the Joint committee on Taxation] expect that as a result of the ACA, some employers will decline to offer coverage and that some employees will elect to forgo offers of coverage that are made in favor of another source of coverage, such as Medicaid."

The office projects that in 2016 the federal subsidies, taxes, and penalties associated with health insurance coverage will amount to 3.6 percent of gross domestic product, or a subsidy of $660 billion from the federal government. That cost is expected to rise at an average annual rate of 5.4 percent.

Due to the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, individuals must either purchase health insurance coverage or pay a penalty by the IRS. The report found that in 2014, the IRS collected about $2 billion in penalty payments. The budget office expects that number to increase to $3 billion in 2016, and that from 2017 to 2026, penalty payments will total $38 billion.

"CBO's new projections show that the law is working to cover the uninsured, while costing less than expected," said Aaron Albright, a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "These new estimates find that the law's coverage provisions will cost 28 percent less in 2019 than in CBO's original projections."

Published under: Obamacare