The Affordable Care Act — AKA ObamaCare — celebrated a sixth birthday last week. But instead of a celebration and lots of fireworks, the birthday generated questions, comments and few answers.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it has a new estimate of the number of people who signed up this year. It’s around 12 million. That’s down from the CBO estimate of 13 million in January.
Worse, it’s way, way down from the 21 million the CBO predicted a year ago.
The CBO also said it will cost the taxpayers $660 billion in 2016 to subsidize health insurance for those under age 65. That will equal 3.6% of the gross domestic product. About 40% of that — or $268 billion — is tax breaks for small employers providing health insurance for employees and the exclusion for employer-based health insurance plans for 155 million workers under the age 65.
Another $279 billion in subsidies are expected for Medicaid and for the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program. They cover 68 million low-income Americans.
That’s the financial end of things. But is it working? Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law those without health insurance has fallen to an historic low of about 9%. The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey noted 3 million more people have employer coverage now than did in 2010. At the same time, the number of uninsured has fallen by 10 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disagrees with the Census Bureau’s 3 million number and says employer coverage is basically flat so far. But it did note — as did the CBO — that 12 million people are signed up this year.
At least so far.
The public jury is still out and the nation remains one side or the other of 50% favorable or unfavorable. It depends on the survey. Some parts of ObamaCare — however — are very popular. The existing condition part of the law is loved by most. So is the tenant that says parents can keep their kids on their plans until age 26.
Congress still has much to do says the White House. The president does not like the 11.5% of citizens don’t have health insurance. Still. And this is even though the law requires them to do so. The White House wants to make sure those people know they need to pick up insurance and that in many cases it will be subsidized.
It also will focus this year on the 19 states that still refuse to run their own exchange. That — the White House says — will reduce the 11.5% number.
Efforts are also going to be made to lower co-payment costs, deductibles and other expenses.
Source links: Insurance Business America, The Hill, Insurance Journal