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ACA exchange problems decrease CBO’s insurance projections

Wednesday February 5, 2014
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The Congressional Budget Office has lowered its projection for the number of newly insured people in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act, citing technical problems that hindered online enrollment during the first two months of the insurance exchanges.

The CBO projects 6 million people will become privately insured through the exchanges this year, down from a previous estimate of 7 million. And 8 million are projected to receive coverage through Medicaid, down from 9 million.

“Technical problems that impeded many people’s enrollment in exchanges in the first months of the open enrollment period” were the primary factor in the revised projection. The exchanges launched Oct. 1, as had been scheduled since the ACA passed in 2010, but the Healthcare.gov site was plagued by glitches throughout October and November. Some of the 14 states that chose to run their own exchanges also had lingering problems.

The CBO estimates help shape expectations about the impact of the law, including among insurers, who set premiums and other coverage conditions based in part on the projections.

Long-term projections regarding new enrollees remain the same, according to the CBO, which anticipates 13 million individuals will have private insurance through the exchanges by 2015 and 22 million will have it by 2016. Enrollment in Medicaid, for which eligibility expanded under the ACA, is projected to rise to 12 million in 2015.

Although 25 million additional people will be insured either through the private insurance exchanges or expanded Medicaid in 2015, according to the projections, 2 million fewer people will have employer-based coverage and 3 million fewer will have individual policies outside the exchanges. Thus the net gain in newly insured will be 20 million. That still will leave 37 million people uninsured.

As of late January, about 3 million people had enrolled in private insurance plans, according to the Obama administration.


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