'Obamacare' To Insure Fewer, Cost Less Than Estimated: CBO

on March 13 2012 7:48 PM
U.S. Health Care Policy
The Congressional Budget Office said the insurance coverage provisions of the health care law will insure 2 million fewer than expected. REUTERS

President Barack Obama's health care reform will leave more Americans without coverage -- and will cost less -- than originally estimated, according to a Tuesday report from the Congressional Budget Office.

The nonpartisan agency updated its 2011 report on the costs of the Affordable Care Act's coverage provisions and found that by 2016, 2 million fewer people will be insured than expected. The new figures show the number of uninsured Americans will drop by 30 million, instead of 32 million.

Another revision from the CBO discusses where Americans will get their insurance. Last year, the CBO expected 1 million to drop employer-based coverage, but that has been bumped up to 4 million. Insurance exchanges -- state-based marketplaces that will be running by 2014 -- will serve 20 million people, which is a 2-million-person decrease from 2011 estimates.

Meanwhile, a million more Americans are now expected to get coverage through the Medicaid and Children Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) than previously estimated, for a total of 17 million new enrollees.

Fewer people are now expected to obtain health insurance coverage from their employer or in insurance exchanges; more are now expected to obtain coverage from Medicaid or CHIP, the CBO report said. More are expected to be uninsured.

While fewer Americans than originally expected will get coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the coverage provisions of the law will cost about $50 billion less over a 10-year period from 2012-2021. The decrease is due to new laws passed over the last year, changes in economic outlook and a slowdown in the increasing rate of insurance premiums.

The CBO said the combined effects of the changes include a $168 billion increase in outlays for Medicaid and CHIP; a $97 billion decrease in costs for setting up exchanges; a $20 billion decrease in the cost of giving small employers tax credits; and a $99 billion reduction in the deficit due to penalty payments, an excise tax on high-premium insurance plans and tax revenue.