CBO Cuts Projection for 2014 Exchange Enrollment by 1M
At least one million fewer people than previously expected are projected to obtain health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act's exchanges this year, primarily because of the troubled rollout of the federal health insurance exchange website last fall, according to a new analysis accompanying the Congressional Budget Office's new annual budget outlook report, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
In May 2013, CBO projected that at least seven million people would enroll in coverage through the exchanges this year (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/4).
In its latest projections, CBO said five million of the six million individuals now estimated to be newly insured through the exchanges are expected to receive federal subsidies to offset premium costs for the private plans (Ethridge, CQ Roll Call, 2/4). CBO also reduced the projected amount of federal spending on the subsidies by $16 billion.
In addition, CBO analysts reported eight million people are expected to enroll in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program this year under the ACA, down from nine million that the agency projected last year. The agency also cited technical issues related to the problematic rollout of HealthCare.gov for the lower projected enrollment figures.
Still, CBO noted that exchange enrollment could reach its original target if there is a surge in registrants before March 31, when the open enrollment period ends. In addition, analysts said that overall exchange enrollment could jump over the next two years, reaching 22 million by 2016 (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/4).
By 2017, CBO projected that between 24 million and 25 million people would be enrolled in exchange plans. The agency estimates that about 80% of those people would receive federal subsidies and that spending on subsidies would increase from a projected $15 billion this year to $143 billion in 2024.
Overall, CBO expects that the ACA's coverage provisions will cost $41 billion in 2014 and $1.4 trillion during the 10-year period from 2015 to 2024. The 10-year cost projection is $9 billion less than what the agency projected last year for the same period (CQ Roll Call, 2/4).
White House Shrugs Off Report
During his daily press briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney dismissed CBO's projections. Carney said the White House is "confident that we will have a substantial number of people having signed up and a good mix of people having signed up" in exchange coverage by the March 31 deadline, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
He noted that the technical issues with HealthCare.gov "have been well-documented and covered," adding, "And what is true today is that enrollment is ramping up and ramping up rapidly" (Sink, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.